A civil society group based in Onitsha, Anambra State, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, has suspended the use of the titles Honourable or Lordship to the names of all serving justices of Nigeria’s Supreme and Appeal Courts until further notice.
The group said the decision is a moral protest against the justices for their anti-democratic roles in the 2019 presidential poll court proceedings and their verdicts.
In a statement Intersociety said” in placing the moral protest against the named, the principle of vicarious liability or responsibility was applied. The most undoing of it all by the two Courts was brazen denial of fair hearing; the grand foundation of the Judiciary as the ‘last hope of common man’.
The statement further stated that the “country’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, apart from introducing Ape Quotient as a new criterion for vying for elective public offices in the country, have also legitimatized and revolutionalised ‘kill-and-bury’ politics in the country’s electioneering and momentarily, if not permanently deleted the due recourse to judicial remedies and their hopeful expected outcomes. What just played out in the Bayelsa and Kogi State staggered gubernatorial polls is just the beginning. The newly rubber stamping roles of the country’s judiciary in matters of election court cases now provide political actors in Nigeria with violence and bloodletting, military and police supervised rigging and other forms of electoral fraud and brigandage as the only option left.
“In other words, letters and other public references to the serving Justices of Supreme Court or Court of Appeal shall henceforth bear common titles of ‘the Justices of the Supreme Court’ or ‘the Justices of the Court of Appeal’. Their greeting titles shall change from ‘Their Lordships’ to ‘Sirs’/’Madams’ (designed in moral law or ethics for men and men with older ages). Singularly, it shall no longer be ‘the Honorable Justice’, but ‘Mr. Justice’ or ‘Your/His Lordship’, but ‘Sir’/’Madam’. This moral position or obligation of ours excludes lawyers and criminologists working with Intersociety. The exclusion is only in their individual and ‘outside-our-group’ capacities. They are at liberty, in their private capacities, to choose otherwise.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the advanced dictionary checks concerning the title-honourable indicate that the title is a noble title meant for people of noble character and conduct such as unstained, incorruptible and distinguished judges in the hallowed chambers of justice. As a matter of fact, it is defined by the Dictionary of Competent Reference as (a) bringing or worthy of honor, and (b) used as a title indicating eminence or distinction, given especially to judges and certain officials of high honor. The same Dictionary defines ‘lordship’ as a noble or respectful form of reference given to a judge or bishop or a man of respected character and conduct.
Nigerians and other people of good conscience are therefore invited to determine whether the serving Justices of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, vicariously speaking, are still truly worthy of bearing such impeccable titles in view of their recent outings over the post 2019 Presidential Poll court proceedings and verdicts. In the immortal words of late Bench/Juridical icon, Oputa C. (JSC), ‘a corrupt or stained judge is worse than a mad man (mentally imbalanced) man running amok with a sharp machete in a crowded market place’.