From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Courr, Justice Ibrahim Ndai Auta, on Tuesday revealed why the court did not disqualify President Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2015 presidential election in spite of several court cases against him.
Justice Auta who spoke on the occasion of the 2017/2018 legal year held in Abuja, disclosed that the court, as an unbiased arbiter, took the decision so as to allow a level playing ground for all contestants in such a general election.
In the same vein, the Chief Judge hinted that attempts to prevent some National Assembly members from contesting the 2015 polls on account of their defection from one party to another was resisted by court so as to allow all eligible candidates to test their popularity among the Nigerian people.
Justice Auta therefore asked Nigerians to be grateful to the judiciary for preserving the unity of the country through unbiased decisions.
“Despite all pressures to stop certain members of the National Assembly as a result of their abandonment of the party that brought them to power, the court insisted that every candidate must be allowed to test his/her popularity.
“Secondly, the attempt to stop the president from contesting was also rejected by this court. This is because we in the Federal High Court preferred a level playing ground to all candidates.
“It is this option and insistence of this court that has kept the country together during and after the election. The Nation therefore owes it to the judiciary and particularly Federal High Court for the unity of this country”, he said.
While he said the court joins other Nigerians to pray for the good health of the president in his bid to provide quality and exemplary leadership for the country, Justice Auta, however charged judges to be bold in taking far reaching decisions even in the face of persecution in order to preserve the unity of Nigeria as well as continue to repose confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of ordinary Nigerians.
“I urge you to be the reason the common man would believe in the goodness of the system. Do not be worried about the social media and those that deliver judgment on the pages of newspaper.
“The job of judging is a special gift from God and in the end you will face God to justify your actions”, he said.
“I pray that God changes our mind to think more about the unity of Nigeria where everyone is treated as one and the same. Our job is perhaps the only one that guarantee the aspirations of our founding fathers”, he added.
On the achievements recorded by the court so far, Justice Auta disclosed that the court now has divisions all the 36 states of the federation including Abuja for administrative convenience and to take justice to the doorstep of all Nigerians.
Besides, he further said that the court now has 80 judges and that ten more will join the Federal High Court bench before the years runs out.
He thanked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen for always given prompt approval to the request of the court and also thanked the entire Court staff for their loyalty and dedication to duty.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami SAN, charged judges to always be upright, fearless and considerate in the discharge of their duties.
Malami whose speech was delivered by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata commended the efforts of the Chief Judge in the reform policies executed under his leadership.
The AGF further charged judges to always ensure speedy dispensation of justice to cases before them without compromising on credibility, adding that judgment should always be made to reflect laws.