The National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday inaugurated a 10-man Judicial Ethics Committee with a mandate to review the code of conduct for judicial officers in the country.
The council also launched a new judicial policy that bars the media from publishing allegations of misconduct against judges and other employees of the judiciary.
The new policy document states: “It shall be the policy of the Judiciary on complaints that allegations of misconduct against judicial officers or employees of the judiciary shall not be leaked or published in the media.”
Section 2.2.4 to Section 2.2.9 of the new National Judicial Policy reads: “Where complaints on allegations against judicial officers and court employees are submitted for investigation, the complainant or complainants shall be made to give an undertaking not to do anything to prejudice investigation or actions that may be taken.”
The committee, which is headed by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Legbo Kutugi, also has the former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, as a member.
Other members of the committee include former President, Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, President, National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), two retired Justices of the Supreme Court as well as a former President of the NBA, Chief Okey Wali (SAN).
At the inaugural ceremony held at the National Judicial Institute, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, tasked members to ensure continuous high standard of judicial accountability and probity.
The CJN, who expressed worry about complaints regarding the capacity of the nation’s judicial system to deliver justice, said the launched National Judicial Policy would provide principles that would ensure an efficient, effective and transparent judicial system.
“It is, indeed, a privilege to witness and celebrate the launch of the National Judicial Policy 2016, which will herald a steady transformation of the Nigerian Judiciary,” said Mohammed.
“This document is a meticulous, considered and well-drafted response to calls for the Judiciary to reform and harmonise its standards.
“I am therefore pleased to say, following great efforts by the Council, that this policy will indeed tick the right boxes, while launching this great institution, the Nigerian Judiciary, into a new level and trajectory that will signal the re-birth, re-invigoration and rededication to nobler values that distinguish us.”
The National Judicial Policy is borne out of the realisation that the “Nigerian Judiciary had been adversely affected by the absence of a clear, coordinated policy framework that defines its core morals, values, objects and aspirations.
“Such concerns have bordered upon the need to make qualitative and integrity-driven dispensation of justice, which is transparent, honest and trustworthy, the hallmark of our transformed Judiciary.
“We could not ignore the fact that, today, we are faced with misguided impressions as to the operations of our Judiciary, while its more laudable qualities and achievements are arcane to some fellow Nigerians.
“Thus, our resolve and commitment to a publicly accessible, value-and-integrity driven policy for our courts, caused some of the brightest minds in the Judiciary to be gathered together in order to create a clear and credible road map towards the transformation in the Judiciary that fellow citizens expect in Nigeria.
Certainly, the absence of a blueprint has resulted in a demand for the transformation of the Nigerian Judiciary into a modern judicial system.