By Wandoo Sombo
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad, on Thursday warned against recklessness, abuse of power and public trust as he swore in 85 judges for Edo and Ondo state election petition tribunals.
The judges would adjudicate on election petitions arising from the forthcoming governorship elections in the two states as well as the bye-elections scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in other states.
“I will not condone any act of recklessness, abuse of power and public trust. This is a rare opportunity and you must give good account of yourselves,” the CJN warned.
Justice Muhammad also implored the tribunal members to be firm and upright and not to be swayed by sentiments and cheap blackmail in the course of discharging their duties.
“There is no doubt that temptations, tribulations, intimidations and even sheer blackmails may be unleashed on you.
“As thoroughbred judicial officers, you must guide your loins to rise above all and do what will earn you accolades in the court of public opinion,” Justice Muhammad said.
The CJN told the judges that there was no mountain too high to scale and there was no goal too difficult to achieve as far as they were firmly resolved to attain higher heights in life.
According to the CJN, you are expected to conduct your affairs within the ambit of the law and the oath that has just been administered on you, as anything short of that will place you on the wrong side of history.
“You should count yourselves worthy to be entrusted with this humongous responsibility of deciding the fate of those who will be contesting the highest political offices in Edo and Ondo and some other political offices in other states by virtue of the forthcoming elections,” he said.
He reminded the judges that trust was a burden which they must discharge with utmost sincerity, honesty and transparency, adding that conscience was an open wound healed only by truth.
While noting that all eyes would be on them, he urged members of the election petition tribunals to rise and operate above every sentiment that might play out in the course of their adjudication at the tribunal.
The 85 judges were drawn from Federal High Court and High Courts of the 36 states including that of the Federal Capital Territory.
While the Edo election is scheduled to take place on Sept. 19, that of Ondo would hold on Oct. 10.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that election petitions are expected to be filed 14 days after an election.