The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, on Tuesday bowed out of service on the attainment of 65 years of age.
This is even as he declared in his speech at a valedictory court session held in his honour that the greatest strength of the judiciary remained the trust, reliance and faith of the people in it.
Bello, who became the FCT CJ on May 28, 2015, said that in a democratic set up like Nigeria’s, the judiciary had to be impartiality.
“I solemnly accept as true the saying that the greatest strength of the judiciary is the trust, reliance and faith of the people in it.
“In several cases, I have seen the court take decisions against the state as well for the achievement of the ends of justice. I know this well because I have delivered some myself,” the retiring CJ said.
According to him, apart the fact that the position of a judge accorded respect on him, such judge ought to assert his judicial freedom and impartiality with a view to protecting the rights of the individual against lawlessness and anything that distorts good order and societal stability.
“The position of a judge is an exalted one which accords the holder great respect by all and sundry.
“He is expected to assert his judicial freedom and impartiality and to use all his skills to protect the rights of the individual against lawlessness, arbitrariness or anything that distorts good order and societal stability.
“I can state determinedly that in today’s world just as it was when I ventured into this profession, kindheartedness and compassion are essential virtues and I have striven to always keep that in my mind while discharging my duties,” he said.
Justice Bello noted that during his very active years as a judge, which ended today, he lived up to the expectation of a judge and he had done the needful to build public confidence and trust.
According to him, he had always kept in mind the words of the glorious Quran that: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you).
“So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do (Surah Àn-Nisa 135).”
In his goodwill message on the occasion, the FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammed Bello, described Justice Bello as a person with very deep passion for using the instrumentality of law to dispense justice especially for those seemingly ensnared in the courts and also the correctional systems.
The minister stated that Bello further demonstrated this while he served as the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of Prisons and Prison Reforms in Nigeria, among other adhoc assignments he carried out for the country.
“His efforts as the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of Prisons and Prison Reforms in Nigeria which is one of the many of such ad-hoc but highly sensitive assignments he has diligently undertaken has seen to big leaps being taken forward in our quest of having a correctional system that really achieves its objectives of genuine reformation of Nigerians who owe debts to society.
“We will also honour our commitment to Justice Bello in his quest for the establishment of a Children and Young Persons’ Court which is a project for which he has great passion.
“We are a little bit saddened that certain circumstances very much beyond our control in the course of the year had prevented us from making as much progress as we would have wished on this matter,” the minister said.
He, however, assured the outgoing CJ that before the end of his tenure as FCT Minister, the FCT Administration would do its best to complete the Children and Young Persons’ Court in the Territory.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Benchers, Dr Alex Izinyon SAN, said Justice Bello was able to record the successes he achieved during his tenure due to his great determination and hard work.
According to Izinyon, Bello did not only achieved successes but also built men during the short time he served as the FCT Chief Judge.
“These are fellow judges, magistrates, area court judges, Sharia Court judges and administrators in the judiciary. That is the best legacy for a leader to leave.
“It is in affinity with an Indian proverb which says: If you are planning for one year plant rice. If you are planning for ten years plant trees, if you are planning for 100 years plant people.
“My lord has planted these people and the inevitable harvest is the legacy created. We salute my lord,” the senior advocate said.
Describing Bello as a jurist per excellence, Izinyon submitted that the retiring CJ really came, saw and conquered in the arena of the FCT judiciary and the nation at large.
Dignities in attendance at the valedictory court session included the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammed; Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, representatives of Akwa Ibom governor, among others.