The Conference was convened to acknowledge the critical role of the Judiciary in Nigeria’s democracy and to recognize the far-reaching impact of judicial pronouncements on the lives of citizens. The conference had 540 participants drawn from judiciary, civil society actors, lawyers, university students, Embassies and High Commissioners as well as other international development partners, 


  1. The Conference which featured a keynote address from Honorable Justice Ibrahim Buba, Rtd and a robust panel of discussants from the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, gender rights groups and the media addressed several key themes and was able to coalesce some thoughts on the way forward.
  2. The keynote address emphasized that the quality of the Bar reflects the quality of the Bench and in seeking judicial accountability, we cannot divorce one from the other.  Thus, all ministers in the temple of justice must embody integrity and accountability at all times. The address also admonished members of the legal profession to jealously guard the profession and ensure that only principled people who can fearlessly call public officers to order are appointed to the bench.
  3. While the discussants noted that accountability is not an innate human trait, it nonetheless challenged judicial officers to rise to the occasion and to act in tandem with the nobility of their profession and therefore be deliberate and unequivocally accountable in the discharge of their judicial obligations to state and citizens. The Conference also observed that the lack of accountability is further compounded by the High-Power Distance culture in certain societal contexts, which makes it appear disrespectful and unthinkable for ordinary citizens to demand accountability of judicial public office holders who many may regard as demi-gods who themselves are above the law.
  4. Additionally, discussants and participants at the conference recognized that our value system as a society is currently at its lowest ebb and the Judiciary is not isolated from this decadence. Transparency in judicial appointments was identified as a veritable medium to curb the decadence in the judiciary. It was buttressed that transparency is necessary to achieve Judicial Accountability and any accountability without transparency to the citizens remains insufficient in the circumstances. It is germane to note however that Judicial officers cannot be held to account by the citizens, if they (citizens) do not know what the judicial officers are doing.
  5. Emphasizing the role of Judges in restoring the faith of the common man in the judiciary, it was agreed that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of members of the legal profession; both the bar and bench to use their powers to speak up against, question and sanction conducts of public office holders.
  6. In identifying the root cause of lack of accountability in the Judicial system, the discussants  singled-out the structure of the Nigerian society as one that does not encourage accountability. Everyone awaits an opportunity to benefit from the rot and are seldom willing to advocate for change and accountability because it would be in their interest “when their time comes.
  7. The topical issue of nepotistic appointment of heads of courts was also raised and opinions seemed to be divided on its propriety. The keynote speaker noted that there was nothing wrong with heads of courts appointing their family members into judicial offices so long as they meet the requirements. The question posed was whether merit and qualification alone is sufficient basis to appoint a family member or whether the underlying moral and ethical considerations make it inappropriate. A greater majority of panelists frowned at this practice and felt it infringed inalienable moral and ethical duties of the implicated heads of Courts.
  8. While discussing how to tackle corruption in the Judiciary, the discussants and participants agreed that corruption takes place in secret and it is difficult to uncover but with transparency, significant improvements can be made. It was also agreed that until there is an assurance that culprits will be punished, people are less likely to whistle-blow and perpetrators will continue to thrive.
  9. The discussants also questioned the overbearing and ubiquitous power of the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the accountability structures of the Judiciary especially the National Judicial Council where the CJN almost single-handedly appoints all the members. The discussants identified this as one of the greatest reasons for the dwindling trust Nigerians have in the judiciary. The National Judicial Council exercises disciplinary control over judicial officers and if they are appointed by CJN, they are delimited in exercising such disciplinary measures against the CJN if the need arises.
  10. The discussants and participants ended the conference by stating that the duty to restore the trust of the common man in the judiciary rests on every member of the profession starting with the Judges and especially the heads of Courts. The Conference urged the judiciary to take urgent steps to improve transparency within its governance processes especially appointment of Judges. RECOMMENDATIONS. 1. That the office of the CJN should be unbundled especially as chairman of National Judicial Council, Federal Judicial Service Commission, National Judicial Institute and Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee.

    2.  The Conference recommends that these conversations will continue and that all Nigerians will make their voice heard and the judiciary would listen and not take the calls for accountability as a challenge of its authority but rather an opportunity to win public trust again.

3. Strengthen the integrity requirement of appointment of judges and make it more transparent.

4. Strengthen the NJC to hold judicial officers accountable

5. The code of ethics for judicial officers by the NJC needs no review but proper political will by the CJN to                     investigate and sanction erring judicial officers.

6. The participants and discussants suggested that the conference should be made periodic to review the state              of accountability in Nigeria’s judiciary.

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