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JUDGES SHOULD NOT BE CASTIGATED FOR PERFORMING THEIR DUTIES

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The way politics in this country is played frightens me every dawning day. It is a fight to finish affair. Nobody accepts defeat at the polls. The Judges must be the final bus stop. And when they come to the Judges and the Judges in their professional minds give judgment, they call them all sorts of names. To the party who wins the case, the Judiciary is the best place and real common hope of the common man. To the party who loses, the Judiciary is bad. Even when a party loses a case because of serious blunder of Counsel, it is the Judge who is blamed. Why? While I know as a matter of fact that in every case, the Judge makes an additional enemy, if I use the word unguardedly, I must say that the Judge does not regard the person as his enemy. The Judge who has given judgment in the light of the law, should not be castigated in the way it is done in this country. That is a primitive conduct and I condemn it. It is a conduct that does not help the promotion of the administration of justice. It is rather a conduct that is likely to affect adversely the administration of justice in this country. I feel very strongly that Nigerian Judges should be allowed to perform their judicial functions to the best of their ability. I should also say that no amount of bad name-calling will deter Nigerian Judges from performing their constitutional functions of deciding cases between two or more competing parties. Somebody must be trusted in doing the correct thing. Why not the Nigerian Judge?

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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INTERPRETATION FOR THE APPOINTMENT & REMOVAL OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS

It is for the foregoing reasons that I hold the view that in the resolution of the issue at hand, the entire provisions of the 1999 Constitution in Sections 153(1)(i)(2), 271(1), 292(1)(a)(ii) and paragraph 21 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 dealing with the appointments removal and exercise of disciplinary control over Judicial Officers, must be read, interpreted, and applied together in resolving the issue of whether or not the Governor of a State and the House of Assembly of a State can remove a Chief Judge of a State in Nigeria without any input of the National Judicial Council.

– Mahmud, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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COORDINATE JUDGES CANNOT OVERTURN ONE ANOTHER

In NWANI vs. EDE (1996) 8 NWLR (pt. 466) 332, Tobi, JCA (as he then was) stated: “It is a general principle of law that a Judge lacks the jurisdiction to overturn the decision of another Judge, even if he feels strongly that the decision is wrong. Such a judicial conduct is tantamount to presiding over the decision of the brother Judge on appeal. The Constitution does not allow such a procedure…”

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DUE PROCESS FOR REMOVAL OF A STATE JUDGE

This is because any exercise of power to remove a Chief Judge must be based on his:
1. Inability to discharge the functions of office or appointment;
2. The inability to perform the functions of his office could arise from infirmity of the mind or of body;
3. For misconduct or
4. The contravention of the code of conduct.
All these conditions or basis for the exercise of power to remove a State Chief Judge must be investigated and confirmed by credible evidence and placed before the Governor and the House of Assembly before proceeding to exercise their power of removal granted by the Section of the Constitution.

– Mahmud, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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NIGERIAN JUDGES AND POLITICIANS MUST NOT BE FOUND MINGLING

I see from Exhibit EP2/34 the need for Nigerian Judges to maintain a very big distance from politics and politicians. Our Constitution forbids any mingling. As Judges, we must obey the Constitution. The two professions do not meet and will never meet at all in our democracy in the discharge of their functions. While politics as a profession is fully and totally based on partiality, most of the time, judgeship as a profession is fully and totally based on impartiality, the opposite of partiality. Bias is the trade mark of politicians. Non-bias is the trade mark of the Judge. That again creates a scenario of superlatives in the realm of opposites. Therefore the expressions, “politician” and “Judge” are opposites, so to say, in their functional contents as above; though not in their ordinary dictionary meaning. Their waters never meet in the same way Rivers Niger and Benue meet at the confluence near Lokoja. If they meet, the victim will be democracy most of the time. And that will be bad for sovereign Nigeria. And so Judges should, on no account, dance to the music played by politicians because that will completely destroy their role as independent umpires in the judicial process. Let no Judge flirt with politicians in the performance of their constitutional adjudicatory functions. When I say this, I must also say that I have nothing against politicians. They are our brothers and sisters in our homes. One can hardly find in any Nigerian community or family without them. There cannot be democracy without them and we need democracy; not despotism, oligarchy and totalitarianism. They are jolly good fellows. The only point I am making is that their professional tools are different from ours and the Nigerian Judge should know this before he finds himself or falls into a mirage where he cannot retrace his steps to administer justice. That type of misfortune can fall on him if the National Judicial Council gets annoyed of his conduct. Ours are not theirs. Theirs are not ours. I will not say more. I will not say less too. So be it.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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APPELLATE COURT INTERFERENCE WITH TRIAL COURTS DISCRETION

It needs to be emphasised here that an appellate Court will usually not interfere with an exercise of discretion in its quest to obtain substantial justice except where it is satisfied that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or illegally or without due regard to all necessary consideration having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

Even then, it is well – established that an appellate Court will not, in principle, interfere with the exercise of discretion by the trial Court unless that discretion is shown to have been exercised upon wrong principles or that the exercise was tainted with some illegality or substantial irregularity. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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JUDGES ARE TO BE CURRENT WITH THE TIMES

Gbadamosi v. Kabo Travels Ltd (2000) 8 NWLR (Pt. 668) page 243 at paragraphs 288/289, it was held thus:- “Judges are required to keep abreast of time and not to live in complete oblivion to happenings around them. They are to keep pace with the time.”

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