Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, on Friday, swore in eight new Justices of the Supreme Court and charged them not to try to please everyone but to fear God.
The inauguration, which took place at the ceremonial court of the Supreme Court in Abuja, pushed the number of Justices on the apex court bench from 12 to a record 20.
Although still short of one to make the full complement of 21 Justices of the Supreme Court as provided for in the Nigerian Constitution, the highest number of Justices the court had had at any time until Friday was 17.
The newly inaugurated Justices of the apex court who were recently elevated from the Court of Appeal bench are, Justices Lawal Garba (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and M. M. Saulawa (North West).
The rest are Justices Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (South-South), Tijani Abubakar (North East) and Emmanuel Agim (South-South).
The CJN presided as the eight new Supreme Court Justices, in turn, took their oath of office and oath of allegiance to the Nigerian Constitution.
Advising the new Justices of the apex court, the CJN said they would fail if they tried to please everyone.
He said, “I want to assure you that more of such will come your way, especially as you now assume duties at the final court of the land, where appellants’ expectations are often very high and infectious. There is no way you can please human beings, especially litigants.
“That is what it is. I am, however, making it absolutely clear to you all and sundry, that the easiest way to fail in life is to try to please everybody.
“The only deity you can fear is the Almighty God. Once your judgment is in consonance with what God expects from you and is also in accordance with the Constitution, you should consider yourself, the happiest and freest person on earth.
“Aside from that, every other thing you hear around you, is mere noise and or gossip, which will naturally pale into insignificance when the chips are down.”
He also told them that as representatives of God, they must not allow their personal ambition to becloud their sense of judgment.
He said, “At this level of adjudication, you should begin to see yourselves as the representatives of the Almighty God on earth.
“You must not, therefore, allow your personal ambition of any extraneous considerations to becloud your sense of judgment.”
He advised that should they have been interacting with people of “unenviable inclination and pedigree”, it should stop immediately.
He said, “Your interactions with people of unenviable inclinations and pedigree, if any, must be halted forthwith.
“Let your conscience guide and filter every thought that traverses your mind from this moment.”
The appointment of more Justices to the Supreme Court had been delayed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for over a year.
The CJN said the new Justices should know that they were “coming on board at the time when our rank has been grossly depleted to 12 Justices for a number of reasons such as retirement”.