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Jurist Tasks NJC on Resolving Internal Judicial Disputes



By Cyril Mbah, Abuja

A retired Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Justice Nwada Balami has appealed to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to play a more active, reconciliatory role in resolving disputes between judges and other members of the judiciary before such disagreements become public topics and blown out of proportion.

Justice Balami stated that the situation where some lawyers take pleasure in ensuring that the status of the judiciary and its dignity are regularly dragged to the mud over flimsy matters does not portray or reflect positively on the exulted image of the institution.

The retired jurist told journalists in Abuja that the recent controversy which caused the former Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN], Justice Tanko Muhammed to resign should have been avoided had the NJC intervened early enough to nip the problem in the bud.

Recall that the embattled Justice Tanko Muhammed resigned on Monday, 18 months to his retirement date, at the heat of controversies generated by allegations of corruption made against him by Justices of the Supreme Court.
Justice Balami reminded the NJC that the public holds the judiciary in high esteem and he also remarked that it is very demeaning for judges and lawyers to be washing their dirty linen in the public in a manner that attracts public ridicule to the judiciary.

The retired judge said dialogue and negotiations are better tools for dispute resolution and the promotion of peace in any organisation or group setting stressing that misunderstanding and disputes are inevitable even among close family members but that what matters most will be how such quarrels are resolved.

“Differences in the judiciary should be sorted out internally or among the disputing parties rather than allowing them to blow out of proportion. It is wrong for highly placed judges to wash their dirty linens outside in a manner that demeans the judiciary. This is my view.

“All the problems in the judiciary today would have been avoided or brought under control with the active involvement of the National Judicial Council. I call upon the council to play more active role in resolving disputes between judges and members of the judiciary.

“Whatever is happening should be resolved internally. What is happening now is not good for the judiciary. All the allegations coming from members of the judiciary should not have arisen with the active involvement of the NJC. It is the administrative body controlling the judiciary. So, why does it allow the type of allegations flying about in the public space to be so?

He commended the decision of the former CJN to honourably bow out of office without waiting for other pressures to do so describing the voluntary retirement as the act of a gentleman.

Retired Justice Balami also advised the executive not to interfere in the internal problems and disputes in the other arms of government pointing out that doing so would amount to abuse of the process and a violation of the principles of separation of powers.

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