Corrupt judges and impunity of Nigeria’s judicial system

Posted by Olanrewaju Suraju | 29 June 2014 | 5,393 times

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Civil Society Coalition Against Corruption (CSNAC) wishes to draw attention to the ugly trend of corruption and impunity which is fast becoming endemic in Nigeria’s judicial system. CSNAC unequivocally asserts that the failure of the judiciary to purge itself of judges indicted for corruption erodes the integrity of Nigeria’s judiciary as well as casts serious doubt on the widely acclaimed professed commitment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mrs. Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, to fighting corruption in the system. CSNAC therefore categorically affirms that corruption and impunity of the judiciary pose a major clog to Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusade as well as further paint a horrible picture of the declining state of our dear county.

CSNAC notes that, in yet another public proclamation of her anti-corruption policy, the CJN has threatened to sanction judges found wanton in upholding their oath of office and guilty of unethical practices on the bench. CSNAC regrets however that such public proclamation by the CJN has almost become mantra as the judiciary is plagued with litany of unresolved corruption allegations against some judges as well as overt failure to apply established rules or impose mandatory sanctions against indicted judges.

CSNAC wishes to recall that the appointment of Mrs. Aloma Mariam Mukhtar as the CJN elicited much expectations amongst stakeholders in the judiciary as well as the general public, following her widely reported acknowledgement of the depth of the rot in the bench with promise to ensure appropriate reforms. However, in view of several unresolved cases of corruption against judges that are pending, CSNAC asserts categorically that any further public pronouncement by the CJN to the effect of waging war against corruption in the judiciary could only be taken with a pinch of salt. For emphasis, some established pending cases of indictment against judges who still pretend to be credible arbiters in our judiciary provide sufficient grounds to doubt any serious commitment to fighting corruption in the system and by all intent and purposes portend dire consequences for the culture of impunity  that seem to be enjoying free reign in the judiciary.

CSNAC therefore wishes to cite the following cases for the attention and urgent action of the honourable CJN to prove her commitment to integrity of the judiciary, as well as, transparent and accountable administration of justice system in Nigeria: (1) Failure to suspend and or remove Justice Umar of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on the ground of corruption allegation and investigation by the EFCC. It is important to note that other panel members of the CCB have failed to sit with the Chairman as a result of the ethical dilemma arising from the indictment, thereby hindering administration of justice at the CCB. (2) Retirement without reprimand by the National Judicial Council (NJC) of Justice Marcel Awokulehin upon investigation and indictment for conspiracy with drug dealers to violate extant laws establishing the NDLEA. (3) Failure of the NJC to investigate Justice Abdul Kafarati for alleged untoward practices and desecration of the bench. (4) Failure of the NJC to investigate Justice Adejumo of the Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC) for allegedly appointing judges who do not meet the requirements of the law. The same judge was accused by Edo State governor of meddling in matters before other judges of the IAC in a manner smack of compromise.

The cases cited above are among several other corruption allegations and unresolved indictments bedeviling Nigeria’s judicial system. It is regrettable that the CJN now appears overwhelmed by the enormity of the rot and has either become disenchanted or unmotivated to sustain her planned fight against corruption in the judiciary. CSNAC regrets this apparent lack of enthusiasm by the CJN, as well as, nonchalance of the NJC in combating corruption in the judiciary headlong.

CSNAC is of firm opinion that corruption and impunity pose serious disincentive to credible administration of justice as well impugn on the collective psyche of stakeholders in the judicial system.  CSNAC therefore calls on the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) as well as coalitions and platforms of civil society to join the calls to rid the judiciary of bad eggs, in the interest of justice, democracy and good governance. CSNAC however calls on the CJN and the NJC to act accordingly without further delay.

Olanrewaju Suraju is Chairman, Civil Society Coalition Against Corruption (CSNAC). Photo shows Chief Justice of Nigeria Aloma Mariam Mukhtar.

Source: News Express

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