The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has urged judges on the nation’s bench to strive to overcome what he called “mob mentality” in dispensing justice.
He said they should not give in to mob mentality, pointing out that public opinion and emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases.
Ariwoola spoke on Monday in Abuja at the opening of the special session of the 2023/2024 legal year and the swearing-in of 58 newly appointed Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
With the contentious and complex nature of electoral dispute and the recent outcomes, he urged all judges to always “discharge all judicial functions with all the humility at your command.”
He said: “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 minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before you.
“The law remains the law, no matter whose interest is involved. In all we do, as interpreters of the law, we should endeavour to severe 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.”
Ariwoola said judges must make books their armour and not be afraid of venturing into “unchartered territories”, stressing that it is through this that they “confront the headwinds of ignorance, conservatism and stagnation.”
He said: “I therefore, advise all judicial officers serving in our jurisdiction to make books their armour and hard work their armaments to confront the headwinds of ignorance, conservatism and stagnation.
“It is imperative to know that the world we are only remembers those who lead from the front and set trends for others to emulate.”