The Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Justice Ishaq Bello, on Tuesday tasked judicial officers on quick dispensation of justice.
In his speech during a valedictory session in his honour, Bello said that, in a democratic country like Nigeria the key attribute of the judiciary must be its impartiality.
According to Bello, “in several cases, I have seen the court take decisions against the state as well for the achievement of justice.
“I know this well because I have delivered some myself.
“The position of a judge is an exalted one which accords the holder great respect by all and sundry.
“He is expected to assert his judicial freedom and impartiality and to use all his skills to protect the rights of the individual against lawlessness, arbitrariness or anything that distorts good order and societal stability.
“I can state determinedly that in today’s world just as it was when I ventured into this profession, kindheartedness and compassion are essential virtues and I have striven to always keep that in my mind while discharging my duties.
“I also solemnly accept as true the saying that the greatest strength of the judiciary is the trust, reliance and faith of the people in it” he said.
According to Bello, during his very active years as a judge which ends today, he had lived up to the expectation of a Judge and he had done the needful to build public confidence and trust.
“I have always kept in my mind the words in the glorious Quran; “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you).
“So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do (Surah Àn- Nisa 135)”.
“Additionally, I lived with the immortal word of Mahatma Gandhi …
“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
” I shall not fear anyone on earth
I shall fear only God –
I shall not bear ill will towards anyone, I shall not submit to injustice from anyone
I shall conquer untruth by truth and in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering”.
In his goodwill message, the FCT Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Bello said:” Justice Bello has a very deep passion for using the instruments of the law to dispense justice especially for those seemingly ensnared in the courts and also the correctional systems.
“His efforts as the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of Prisons and Prison Reforms in Nigeria which is one of the many of such ad-hoc, but highly sensitive assignments he has diligently undertaken has seen to big leaps being taken forward in our quest of having a correctional system that really achieves its objectives of genuine reformation of Nigerians who owe debts to society.
“We will also honour our commitment to Justice Bello in his quest for the establishment of a Children and Young Persons’ Court which is a project for which he has great passion.
“We are a little bit saddened that certain circumstances very much beyond our control in the course of the year had prevented us from making as much progress as we would have wished on this matter.
“I however wish to re-assure Justice Bello that we will do the best we can to see to its completion before the end of my tenure as FCT minister.
“Like Justice Bello, we also believe strongly in the reformation and proper correction of offending minors,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the body of benches, Dr Alex Izinyon , SAN, said that the great determination and hard work of Bello, produced the achievements recorded within the brief period.
According to Izinyon, the outgoing judge within the period built men.
“These are fellow Judges, Magistrates, Area Court Judges, Sharia Court Judges and Administrators in the judiciary. That is the best legacy for a leader to leave.
“It is in affinity with an Indian proverb which says: If you are planning for one year plant rice. If you are planning for ten years plant trees, if you are planning for 100 years plant people.
“My lord has planted these people and the inevitable harvest is the legacy created. We salute my lord,” he said.
According to him, Bello, in the arena of Federal Capital Territory Judiciary and the nation at large came, saw and conquer, adding that the retiring CJ was a jurist per excellence.
He said that the body was concerned with the unending feud, factions and fighting among members of the many branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in Nigeria.
“It is on the increase. This has not been the practice years back. It is however a signal of the lack of discipline, control, greed and egoistic cleaverage by some of our members.
“We must give peace a chance and must yield to one another in order to achieve peace and fight a united battle and peaceful co-existence.
“Our body is in torch with the Nigerian Bar Association to stem this tide and where possible invoke disciplinary measure on members who are not prepared to abide by the Constitution, but pursuing selfish agenda with a view to tearing apart the Nigerian Bar Association,” he said.
He pleaded therefore, with the judiciary to be wary in coming to rescue or intervention and granting in most cases conflicting orders from the same Judicial Divisions in the same branch.
According to Izinyon, “This is scandalous and defeats the cooperation between the Bar and the Bench which has been the seamless web for our mutual co-existence and cooperation.
“We urge your lordships to exercise some restrain even if we fail as we are putting our house in order to avoid washing our dirty linens in the public, “he pleaded
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Bello started his career as a lawyer in 1983 and rose to the position of FCT substantive chief judge on May 28, 2015.
Bello retired after attending the retirement age of 65.
Justice Salisu Garba takes over as the Acting chief judge.
In attendance were Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, representatives of Akwa Ibom governor, Justice Tanko Mohammed, Chief Judge of Nigeria (CJN) among others. (NAN)