President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, urged the acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, to do all he can to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary, while promising that his administration would be committed to the independence of the judiciary.
The president made this pledge while swearing in Musdapher as the acting CJN pending his confirmation by the Senate.
The ceremony, held at the Council Chambers, State House, lasted 15 minutes. Jonathan, who said he was confident that Musdapher would rekindle faith in the judiciary, also lauded the outgone CJN, Justice Katsina-Alu, for “his courage and patriotism during the challenging period”.
The president said Justice Musdapher was assuming office at a very challenging time, not only for the judiciary but for the entire populace that look up to the judicial arm of government as an impartial and courageous arbiter.
He however added: “Given his rich antecedents and compelling experience, I am confident that he will be able to face up to these challenges and rekindle the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial process. On our part ,I assure that this administration is totally committed to upholding the tenets of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. We shall continue to engage with the judicial and the legislative arms of government on the basis of mutual respect and productive engagements.
“I congratulate Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher on his deserved appointment as the Acting chief justice of Nigeria and I wish him a most successful and fulfilling tenure.”
On the outgone CJN, the president said the country owed him a lot for providing effective and courageous leadership to the judiciary arm of government. He said, “As he retires from active service, it is my hope that he will remain ready and willing to continue to avail the nation of his worthy attributes of courage, diligence, selfless service and common patriotism.
“On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, I wish him retirement life marked with robust health, fulfilment and Almighty God’s enduring protection and provision.”
For his part, Justice Mustapher assured that he would do justice to all in the overall interest of the nation.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents immediately after he was sworn in, Musdapher said, “The downturn in the society has not left the judiciary alone, no doubt about it. God willing, we will do everything to ensure that things are better in the judiciary.
“We will face the challenge squarely and make sure that it becomes one of the best in the world. The delays in the dispensation of justice will be reduced to the barest minimum, we’ll make sure that we look at the procedural rules and all the laws and make suggestions for the amendment to the laws governing the procedures”.
On his appointment, the acting CJN said, “I don’t know, the constitution is very clear as far as I’m concerned; it is the prerogative of the president to pick and choose anyone he wants from the judges of the Supreme Court or anywhere else.”
Justice Musdapher had served in various capacities such as: attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Kaduna State 1976-78; judge, High Court of Kano State, 1979 chief judge, Kano State Judiciary, 1979-85; justice, Court of Appeal, 1985-2003; justice, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 2003.
He is a member of several professional bodies, including the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), chairman Body of Benchers; vice-chairman, National Judicial Council; chairman, World Jurist Association.
Born on July 15, 1942 in Babura Town, Jigawa State, the new CJN attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies and was called to the Bar in 1968.