The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed yesterday rose strongly in defense of Judges saying that the allegation of corruption leveled against judicial officers
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed yesterday rose strongly in defense of Judges saying that the allegation of corruption leveled against judicial officers This followed insistence by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) that there are still some corrupt judges who are engaged in rendering judgment for a fee.
Irked by the allegations, the CJN publicly challenged members of the bar to name such judges, with an assurance that such judges will not escape disciplinary action. The occasion was at the special session at the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2015-2016 legal year and swearing- in of newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
The National President of the NBA, Austin Alegeh SAN had alleged that some judicial officers had resorted to turning law on its head and making pronouncements which are at variance with the provisions of law. This is just as he added that a few others have formed the bad habit of ignoring judicial precedents even when such authorities are brought to their attention by counsel.
He vowed that the bar will soon send its petition where it will name such Judicial Officers who engage in such untoward behaviour. When it was time for him to respond, however, the CJN condemned what he described as ‘unguarded’ comments by some prominent lawyers that the Judiciary is corrupt.
“Such comments coming from the members of Bar means that they know the identity of the corrupt judges and as such should fish them out to be dealt with by the National Judicial Council NJC”, he added. Speaking further, the CJN revealed that Supreme Court heard 1,578 cases in the last legal year, out which 1009 were motions, 569 were substantive appeals and 262 judgment.
The CJN further stressed the need for full independence of the judiciary in order to achieve a steadfast, impartial and no le institution. On the call for the abolition of the conferment of the rank of SAN, the CJN noted that such will be tantamount to proverbially throwing away the baby with the bath water.
“In any event, none of us here, whether for or against the rank, can decisively abolish the rank. It is a statutory rank and only the National Assembly may abolish it via a Bill of both chambers. In the absence of this, I call on Legal Practitioners to close ranks and seek constructive solution to the challenges that face our profession”. While stating that the process of conferment of the rank of SAN will be more transparent and rational, he added that henceforth, interviews of potential candidates will be streamed live on the website of the Supreme Court.
In his own speech, the Solicitor General of the Federation, Abdullahi Yola stressed the Federal Government’s position to tackle corruption in all facets of national life. He however charged the judiciary to play a significant role by taken steps in reforming its systems and processes to facilitate speedy dispensation of justice, improve the quality of service delivery and engender greater public respect and confidence in the courts.
Speaking on behalf of the body of SANS, Kola S.Okeaya-Inneh SAN stressed the need to look into the mode of principle in which appointment of members of the judiciary and mode of appointments are being made.
“There is a pressing need for the law school to go back to the first principles in the training, such that those that are called to the bar are able to cope with the challenges posed by the Justice delivery system in the 21st century”, he stated.
He also emphasized the need for the review of the appointment processes to be cut across board to enable the system gain acceptability and respectability and further commended the president of the NBA and his executive in their on-going innovations to weed out quackery in the legal profession.
– Tony Ailemen, Abuja