A former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, has bemoaned the negative effect of what she termed “rising culture” of lobbying, favouritism and godfatherism in the Nigerian judiciary.
According to her, the culture led to fall in standard, devalued and weakened the judiciary because it brought incompetent personnel on board.
Justice Mukhtar spoke in Abuja at a book presentation held in honour of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi.
Mukhtar was the 14th CJN, the 13th Nigerian and the first female to occupy the office.
She said, “I will, at this junction, revisit the issue of lobbying and in addition favouritism and godfatherism in the appointment of judicial officers.
“It is sad that we allow the rising culture of lobbying to influence appointment in the judiciary.
“If we are to revive what held sway in the past, that is, maintaining a strong and competent judiciary, then merit should be the watchword. Lobbying, favouritism and godfatherism should be discouraged and discarded, as they lead to the fall in the standard, and instead of enhancing the institution; they devalue and weaken it because of incompetence of the personnel.
“These practices negate the principles of justice and breeds indiscipline.
“I once read in one of our daily newspapers that lobbying is the norm in the USA (United States of America) and since we are practising the American system of democracy, it’s adoption here is in order.
“I disagree because even if they do so, they consider merit first as the efficiency and the intellectual ability of an appointee is always paramount, as far as the judiciary is concerned.
“We should not think of only what we desire today, but what we will bequeath to the generation yet unborn.”
She described the retired Justice Ogunbiyi, as “an epitome of humility.”