The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, said on Monday that the apex court received 1,271 motions and appeals between September 2022 and July 2023.
According to him, the apex court heard 388 political appeals, 215 criminal appeals, and 464 civil appeals.
Speaking at the special court session to mark a new legal year and the swearing-in ceremony of new senior advocates of Nigeria in Abuja, he noted that there were a total of 251 judgments.
He said, “The matters filed at the Supreme Court from the 12th day of September 2022 to the 11th day of July 2023, are 1,271, comprising of motions and appeals. Out of these, we heard 388 political appeals, 215 criminal appeals, and 464 civil appeals. Similarly, the court considered a total number of 49 criminal motions, 153 civil motions, and 2 political motions.”
“Between the 30th day of September 2022 and the 11th day of July 2023, the Supreme Court delivered a total number of 251 judgments. Out of these, 125 were political appeals, 81 were civil appeals and 45 were criminal appeals. Within the period under review (precisely 10 months’ duration), a total number of 91 Rulings were delivered by the Honourable Court. ”
Ariwoola urged judicial officers to be honest while discharging their duties.
He said, “However, I expect every judicial officer to work very hard and also be very honest and courteous to the litigants, witnesses, and members of the Bar, and discharge all your judicial functions with all the humility at your command. Even while doing this, it is still necessary to have at the back of your mind that public opinions, sentiments, or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before you.”
Ariwoola also urged judicial officials not to be overwhelmed by the actions of mobs or crowds, adding that cases should not be determined by sentiments.
He said, “The law remains the law, no matter whose interest is involved. In all we do, as interpreters of the law, we should endeavour to sever the strings of emotion from logic and assumption from fact. We should never be overwhelmed by the actions or loud voices of the mob or crowd and now begin to confuse law with sentiment or something else in deciding our cases.
“Nevertheless, unnecessary and unwarranted utterances are bound to embarrass not only others, but the Judge himself; thus what should be asked, should be asked, and what should not be asked, should be avoided. I admonish our Judges to, as usual, receive what is tendered in Court and eschew what is against the Law and facts after thorough analysis and assimilation both in and out of Court, which exercise is, of course, part of Judgeship. ”
The CJN also called for statutory protection for judiciary independence at the federal and state levels.
He said, “We expected the independence of the judiciary to be given adequate statutory protection, not just at the Federal level alone but equally at the State level so that they could be seen to be truly and genuinely independent in all ramifications. The rule of law, with all its well-understood facets, has been highly questionable since the advent of democratic governance in 1999. ”
Ariwoola, however, called on the judges not to be partial while discharging their duties, adding that impartiality is the hallmark of a judge.
He said, “Therefore, it is our solemn responsibility to keep the river clean at all times. Needless to say that impartiality is the hallmark of a Judge. So, I admonish all of us to always be impartial in all our judgments. I am saying all these now because I will never have this great privilege and opportunity to address the galaxies of legal luminaries, judicial icons, and distinguished personalities in the justice sector of our dear nation in another legal year of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of Nigeria in my entire lifetime again.”
Speaking, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, called for a reduction to the number of appeals that get to the apex court.
He said, “We must begin to develop innovative solutions towards enhancing the working capacity of the Supreme Court, cutting down on the number of appeals that get to this Honourable Court, implementing critical judicial reforms, as well as adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.”