Posted by News Express | 30 September 2016 | 1,844 times
In the light of things, it strongly shows we do not as a state, understand the amount of power this arm wields hence its treatment without zest.
Dear government, corruption in the real sense of the word does not spring from nowhere like clouds, or reside only in the apex of governance; the different offices and parastatals of government are a training ground for the white collar thefts in the corridors of power.
Corruption has causes; triggers. Some might quickly interject the natural cause – avarice but we know better. Aside avarice which is one stream that runs through the crevices of our nature, corruption also stems from the multifarious shades of neglect by those who are supposed to take care of our needs.
With no intention to justify the act, it is easily deducible that with salaries unpaid for months and the stipends of our age worn pensioners denied them for donkey years, the basic avenue open to public servants is to hug the blankets of rapacity and make the ‘best’ of the offices they are given. Why won’t they? How do we expect them to remain impartial, are they robots? Judges, magistrates and the whole caboodle of the judiciary are lawyers before they enter into the seats of adjudication, according to section 292(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which gifts that; “Any person who has held office as a judicial officer shall not on ceasing to be a judicial officer for any reason whatsoever thereafter appear or act as a legal practitioner before any court of law or tribunal in Nigeria,” an adjudicator is not allowed to resume legal practice after holding judicial office.
So the question is this, with the unstable remuneration and highly unfavourable conditions of service how are these men and women of the bench supposed to fare at retirement after years of service to the nation, especially considering the epileptic payment of their pensions? The answer is simple, badly of course.
The dire state of our courts is one issue, insecurity is another. It would strain no nerve cell to regurgitate the happening in Ekiti State where thugs stormed a court in the state, beat up the judge there and burnt his wig and gown. Things like this make us lose hope in the government and in our future as a country.
Our courts are supposed to be protected from the vagaries of hoodlums and criminals in the society. When judges serve judgements, they step on toes and annoy people, most of whom are the crème de la crème of society. So what happens when these persons strike back with criminal force at the bastions of justice? In the current state of things, our courts are left without protection. Our adjudicators are left basically with little or no police presence while the average legislator has a host of security men following him with sirens singing our wheels off the road.
With the current state of things, it is virtually possible as has been shown time and time again for hoodlums to stroll in, perpetuate horror and stroll out uncaught. This is bizarre and crazy especially as different types of evidence are normally sealed and kept in the court premises. Allowing our judges to work in this state of extreme insecurity is a constructive kamikaze. A dire error!
If we are to exist meaningfully and excel as a nation, a lot of work needs to be done and in being done, with utmost alacrity. Amongst these, a suitable increment in the yearly allocation to the judiciary is ten steps in the northern direction in reinvigorating the ailing infrastructures.
In payments from the consolidated fund, superior preference must be given to the Judiciary to effect early payment of salaries and pensions to curb cases of judges being bound not by precedents but by lucre given by the dark of the society to subvert justice.
The protection of our judges and courts needs proper review. While we have commissioners of state governments with two or more mobile police officers following them around both on and off duty, you find judges, even chief judges of states with one or no security personnel to guard them. These are tools of justice with more need of protection but they have zilch.
In the light of this, it will be playing an obvious card to advocate that police presence needs to be beefed-up in our courts and around our judges.
With our level of exposure to hardship, we will joyfully sit on century hardened benches with necks craned to hear what would become of our loved ones and our suits before the Temples of Justicia if other things are put in place but as things are, the rabblement and indeed the rest of the country need not hold their rights with firm hands and faith immediately they set eyes and feet on our courts as its environment stands as the perfect quintessence of the ‘justice’ they will sure get within.
*Caleb Nmeribe, a Guest Writer, writes from Delta State.
•The Legal Watchmen is a group of seasoned young writers who expotulate on legal and political issues in Nigeria. Kindly log onwww.legalwatchmen.wordpress.com for interesting articles.
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