Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Ibra
him Mohammed has charged the executive arm of government to accord the judiciary its respect in all ramifications with a view to carrying out its constitutional duties without fear and favour.
This is even as the CJN averred that independence of the judiciary was crucial to good governance.
Justice Mohammed gave the charge during the first annual inaugural lecture of late Justice Pius Olayiwola Aderemi, held in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
Late Justice Aderemi, who died last year aged 79, was being honoured with the inaugural lecture to mark his posthumous 80th birthday.
The CJN spoke against the backdrop of the title of the lecture “Governance and Good Governance: The Role of the Government”.
Mohammed, who was represented by Justice Olu Ariwoola of the Supreme Court, said judicial officers must adequately be taken care of as accommodated by the constitution.
The CJN’s representative maintained that for quick dispensation of justice to be ensured, the needs of judges to the least judicial officers, stipulated by the constitution must be met.
This is even as he added that the independence of the judiciary must be upheld.
“The executive arm, which is the centre of government of any administration, must not deny the judiciary of its entitlements,” he said.
“The judiciary must be well taken care of. The executive must take care of their needs: from the most senior judge to the least judicial officer, their welfare in terms of salaries and other entitlements must be made available as the constitution has made provision for such needs.
“And not only that, their independence from the influence and manipulations of the executive must be guaranteed. It is when this is done; it is when justice is accorded to them in this regard that justice can be dispensed.”
Differentiating between the two concepts: governance and government, Justice Ariwoola explained that government is a collection of a group of people or body who run the affairs of a state, while governance is the acts, laws, rules or style of ruling the people of the state; set up by government which is the body.
The CJN’s representative stressed that the primary role of any government was provision of good governance.
He further highlighted some key elements of good governance to include rule of law, transparency, consciousness of the government to the plight of the people, equity and inclusiveness, accountability among others.
While commenting on late Justice Aderemi, Ariwoola described him as “a man who was humble to a fault and an incorruptible judge”.
In his remark, Governor Seyi Makinde, represented by his deputy, Engr Rauf Olaniyan, assured that the government was prepared to work assiduously for the progress of the state and for the benefits of all the residents.
He promised that his administration would do everything possible to ensure that judicial officers are well cared for, adding that the independence of the judiciary is upheld.
“This government is prepared to do all its best to make remarkable progress in the state and make life better for our people. And we shall not compromise on the independence of the judiciary; it will be well recognised,” the deputy governor said.
He also described late Aderemi as an incorruptible judge, who never had any bad record while in service.
The guest lecturer, Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa, in his presentation, gave a brief history of Nigeria’s amalgamation and the instances that led to the successive poor records of governance the country has been facing since independence.
“There used to be history of good governance in Nigeria, but all of that changed when after independence there came a division, especially between late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late Chief Arisekola. Before then, the southwest and other regions of the federation were experiencing rapid competitive development across the country.
“The narrative in the southwest changed the moment Awolowo was jailed, and things started declining. This coupled with the murder of Tafawa Balewa and others, who could have maintained the growth and development the country was experiencing at that time.”
Omolewa further faulted the military government, which according to him plunged the country into deeper decline.
In his welcome address, late Justice Aderemi’s first son, Mr Olakunle Aderemi bemoaned the attitude of many Nigerians, saying that everyone should be blamed for bad governance in the country.
Mr Aderemi, who noted that on many accounts Nigerians do not obey laws, lamented it was worrisome to see people trying to do what is right being criticised by many.
He also maintained that the country would not grow because many Nigerians are self-centered, while calling on the government to be accountable to the people.
“It is alarming and unbelievable that when you try to do the right thing you are condemned by many people,” Aderemi said.
“I just came in from the UK and what I realised is that our people here don’t obey simple laws and instructions. Let’s obey traffic laws and other laws made, after all these laws are for our good.
“I also want our lawmakers to make good legislations and be accountable to the people. We want to shun self centeredness if we want to develop. For 50 years we have been hearing Nigeria is a developing country whereas those countries that got their independence after us have developed better than us. This is very sad.”
The event was graced by Oyo state chief judge, Justice Abimbola, who was the chairman of the occasion, other justices, senior lawyers, politicians, royal fathers and other dignitaries.