AFTER about two hours of grilling her on her competence for the apex court’s top job, the Senate on yesterday unanimously confirmed the nomination of Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Justice Mukhtar, who was screened by the Committee of the whole of the Senate, answered questions on crucial national and judicial matters.
She will be inaugurated as CJN on Monday, July 16, according to the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Joy Emodi.
Mukhtar told the Senate that she is determined to flush out corrupt judges from the nation’s judicial system.
She insisted that as much as possible, she would ensure that bad eggs in the judiciary are sent packing.
The CJN-designate, however, noted that there is corruption in every system in the country.
She said that she cannot pretend that the judiciary is free of corruption.
Asked how she intends to address the problem, Mukhtar said that as Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), she would initiate internal cleansing to flush out corrupt judges.
She said, “Corruption is in every system of our society and I cannot pretend that it is not in the judiciary. What I intend to do to curb this is leading by example and pray that others will follow.
“As Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), I will encourage internal cleansing based on petitions. But that is not to say that I will condone frivolous petitions. Each petition will be looked at on its merit. I will also seek the co-operation of my colleagues in the council to ensure that discipline is ensured accordingly.”
On the poor perception of the judiciary by the public, Mukhtar said she is saddened by the development. She assured that she would work to improve and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
She said, “Indeed, as it is as at now, it is very bad and I’m saddened. I will try. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here. I will try to make sure that the confidence reposed in the judiciary, as it were before, is restored.
“I will try as much as possible to ensure that the bad eggs that are there (Judiciary) are flushed out. There will be cleansing by the NJC based on petitions.”
“It is sad that the ordinary man on the street thinks and feels that he cannot get justice and this is because of the situation we find ourselves. I will ensure that this perception is improved.”
On terrorism, she said there is no law to deal with terrorism cases in the country.
According to her, once a law is passed the judiciary would comply to deal with anybody found guilty of terrorism.
Mukhtar said she was aware that Nigerians are very anxious to see that the menace of terrorism is curbed.
She told the Senate that “we can only do that if there is a law but right now there is no law on terrorism. Hence, I would say the ball is in your court and the court of the executive. Once a law is passed, the judiciary will make sure that it complies with it and make sure that it deals with anybody found guilty of the offence.”
However, Senate President, David Mark, reminded the CJN-designate that there is the “Terrorism Prevention Act 2011.”
On plea bargain, she said there is “no harm in it if it is done in good faith and in good conscience.”
On the establishment of special courts on terrorism, she said “my take is that rather than establishing a court just for that purpose, it would be better if a judge of a court is designated to hear and take these matters.”