The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has on Thursday, May 28, 2015 affirmed the directive of the National Judicial Council which prohibits further launching of books in honour of serving judges.
The Chief Justice, who serves also as the chairman of the NJC, confirmed the ban during the swearing in of the new Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, at the Supreme Court complex in Abuja .
It would be recalled, that sources had given out that the NJC had at a recent meeting, directed judges not to accept such honours any longer while they were in service.
The Punch reports that Justice Mohammed said that such events as book launches could expose judges to allegations of corruption and inducement.:
“Judges must understand that by launching such books while in service, they potentially submit themselves to the publishers and the so-called launchers, while opening themselves up to allegations of corruption.
“Accordingly, it is now clear, judging from the public’s reaction to these book launches and the resultant negative media coverage of same, that our ability to be impartial and indeed honest in our judgments, is now regarded with scepticism.
“To argue otherwise would be academic while some of our Judges are perceived, whether rightly or wrongly, to be not absolutely clean.
“My lords, we should not give the public any cause to doubt our integrity or our sincerity of purpose as public confidence once lost is hard to regain.
“It bears reminding that even if the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers does not expressly prohibit this sort of extra-judicial conduct, it is certainly inappropriate and portrays the Nigerian judiciary in a bad light and should therefore be avoided.”
The CJN who called such acts a “worrisome trend” added, “It is further regrettable to note that some petitions received at the National Judicial Council were written in respect of books launched by or on behalf of Heads of Court and being attended by litigants in their courts, who have also acted as chief launchers or indeed guests of honour at the occasion.”