A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Kanu Agabi SAN has said that Nigeria’s judges work harder than slaves yet hardly get appreciated.
He spoke on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) during a ceremony to usher in the 2023/2024 new legal year of the Court of Appeal.
The senior lawyer noted that continued survival of Nigeria as an entity greatly depends on the transparency of judicial officers in the discharge of their judicial functions.
He added that the contributions of judicial officers in the past years have kept the country intact and from chaos and anarchy.
Agabi, therefore, pleaded with judges not to lose their principles and confidence in themselves no matter the challenges.
According to him, despite the contributions and sacrifices of judicial officers, they are still being unwarrantedly attacked and criticised.
He warned that the country would be doomed unless the unjust attacks against judicial officers cease.
“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But the consolation is that the Judges in Nigeria are a match to the devil they are contending with.
“Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them appointed as Justices in other countries.
“A mistake by one justice should not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils.
“Majority of judicial officers are standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack judges, we will lose our minds and conscience,” he said.
He said that those who critisise judicial officers are at liberty to do so, but they have to be cautious in the way they go about it, adding that, while critisising the judiciary, they must not abuse it.
Agabi also spoke against granting of outlandish bail conditions to suspected criminals.
He noted that the law presumes them innocent until guilt is established, adding that granting of outlandish bail that will keep them in custody is unconstitutional.
According to him, “we need not to slam bail conditions that are unattainable as the principles which govern bail conditions are the same as fine governed by the constitution”.
He challenged the current AGF to use his office to improve the welfare and work conditions of judicial officers.
In his speech, the Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi SAN said that President Bola Tinubu’s administration will address the issue of shortage of Justices at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.