In an epoch making event, governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State, has today sworn-in the first female chief judge, Justice Hapsat Abdurrahman alongside Grand Khadi, Hon Justice Ibrahim Sudi and president of customary court of appeal, Hon Justice Audi Balami respectively.
Fintiri who showered encomiums on the three judges said their appointment was a confirmation of their suitability to efficiently man the temple of justice.
“This ceremony isn’t only a fundamental ritual in public service, but a confirmation of the suitability of the celebrants to man our court rooms and dispense justice in the land.
“The three Justices are people I have worked with in their acting capacities and can attest to their capabilities and competence to honourably head our respective temples of justice. While upholding the fundamentals of this testament with a confirmation today, I congratulate them all for reaching this merited point in their individual careers,” he said.
He particularly hailed justice Hapsat Abdurrahman for her doggedness and hard work culminating in the enviable position she is occupying.
“The Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Hafsat Abdulrahman, is a consummate judge who rose through the ranks with unblemished record in her years of service and substantive judgements to her belt.
“We are making history as a government by having the first female Chief Judge in the history of the State. Her emergence is therefore, a watershed development in gender mainstreaming and a testament that the girl-child is at liberty to rise and become anything with merit, devoid of any man-made barriers in Adamawa State.
“To parents, I must say, if we are looking for a role model for our daughters, this is a perfect place to come to – merit, right, truth, hard work, dedication, fairness and justice,” he said.
While extolling the virtues of the other judges Fintiri said, “Hon. Justice Ibrahim Sudi and Hon. Justice Audu Balami, Grand Khadi and President of the Customary Court of Appeal respectively, are equally cutting-edge judges in their own rights.
“The appointments of their Lordships are based on our recommendation to the National Judicial Council (NJC). This recommendation is equally hinged on our assessment of their suitability and performance which meets the NJC’ criteria for Appointment of Judges.
“These criteria include seniority, integrity, competency, having a good moral personality, impartiality, assertiveness, ability to make timely judgments, hard work and the ability to manage cases well.
“I am happy to note that their Lordships have made Adamawa State proud by scaling through all the criteria successfully. Your Lordships, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the past four years, I have had the coveted privilege of presiding over this kind of ceremony perhaps more than any of my predecessors in a single democratic term.
“On each occasion, I have made it a point of duty to sermonize us on the sanctity of oath-taking. It is a ceremony beyond empty rituals. The administration of the Oath of Allegiance and that of Office in public is not just a matter of formal procedure but a public witnessing of the making of two solemn promises for the performance of which the oath-taker will be responsible, on the one hand, to the people and be accountable, on the other, to his Creator.
“Even though, as judicial officers, you are expectedly grounded in the business of the administration of oath, like clergies who would never get tired of preaching against sins, I have decided to never give up on the need to remind every public officer on the weight of oath in service.
“It is indeed a heavy duty on our individual shoulders. How we dispense it truly matters a lot. Lordships, yours is heavier as heads of your various courts and the leaders of our judiciary, you can save the judiciary and build more confidence in the justice system if only you and your colleagues are reminded of the dictates of your oaths in the courts and in every day’s conducts.
“Your Lordships, you are coming at a time when the need to stick to the dictates of your oath isn’t only compelling to your individual personalities but badly needed to safeguard the image of an institution you have given the best part of your lives to.
“The judiciary in Nigeria, is sadly in need of deliberate image-saving. A situation where citizens flagrantly violate the law and arrogantly tell you to “go to the courts”, all because he/she is sure of manipulating the law to tilt the course of justice does not only make the innocent a victim, but robes the judiciary off its integrity and sanctity as the historical last hope of the common man.
“This is arrogance taken too far and we must collectively fight it. It is important to emphasise that the Judiciary is the last line of defence in any constitutional democracy and there must never be a time when citizens begin to habour any suspicion that the Judiciary is captured.
“Under no circumstances should you falter. The integrity of the justice system and the independence of the Judiciary can never be compromised under any circumstances. Come what may, you must remain strong and resilient and be steadfast in upholding the Rule of Law.
“Whilst you cannot control the words or actions of some quarters who are bent on tarnishing or destroying the image of the Judiciary, it is within your control to ensure that no one meddles in your affairs. In other words, there can be no interference in the Judiciary if you judges do not allow that to happen.
“As a Government, we shall continue to accord every democratic institution the needed respect and support. We have institutionalized our organic believe in the doctrine of separation of powers. Today in Adamawa State, the three arms of Government – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are functioning with optimal autonomy.
“It is now a culture that the only way we can realize our aspiration of delivering purposeful leadership to our people is to allow all the organs of government to function independently. With this, your Lordships, I welcome you to the Fresh Air reform team even as we prepare to begin yet another term freely given by the voters of Adamawa State, in the next 21 days.
“The guiding philosophy remains: No one is left behind and nothing is left untouched. Once again, your Lordships, congratulations as I join your family and friends in praying for you.”