Arrested judges should step aside – Nwabueze

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Elder statesman and constitutional lawyer Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has advised the judges arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on allegations of corruption to step aside until the allegations levelled against them are resolved.

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He also blamed the makeup of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) for the rot in the judiciary, saying it is not the appropriate body for the functions assigned to it.

Backing the call made by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that judges whose houses were recently invaded by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and currently facing allegations of corruption should step aside until their cases are sorted out, Nwabueze said: “If I were one of the judges, I will not feel comfortable sitting on the throne of justice.

“I will feel most uncomfortable and embarrassed.

“I will step aside until investigations are carried out and I am vindicated. That is why I agree entirely with the position taken by the NBA. Let them step aside.

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“But, unfortunately, it may turn out in the end that they are innocent.”

Asked what he would have done differently with regard to the allegations against the judges, Nwabueze said he would not have used the DSS to handle the matter, adding that what the agency has done amounts to usurping the  duties of the police.

He said the instrument provided by the constitution to handle such matters is the police.He added: “I would have used the police, incompetent as they are, to investigate the allegation thoroughly, and any judge found wanting after investigation would be prosecuted.

He added: “I would have used the police, incompetent as they are, to investigate the allegation thoroughly, and any judge found wanting after investigation would be prosecuted. “I won’t spare anybody, but I won’t do this Gestapo style of investigation.”

“I won’t spare anybody, but I won’t do this Gestapo-style of an investigation.” Nwabueze said though the judiciary is “stinking with corruption,” it is not necessary to undermine its credibility.

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Nwabueze said though the judiciary is “stinking with corruption,” it is not necessary to undermine its credibility. He added: “We should find a way of investigating and prosecuting those who are.

He added: “We should find a way of investigating and prosecuting those who are corrupt but, not by this police state method.

“You can’t disgrace an institution because of one or two rotten eggs. There is a better way to do it.

“But here you have a President that is already prejudiced against the judiciary. He doesn’t believe in all these democratic methods.”He believes in

“He believes in personal, power and the National Security Act has equipped him with the personal power that he wants, and he is exploiting it. “That act should be expunged from our statute book. “

“That act should be expunged from our statute book.”

Nwabueze said the NJC has not acquitted itself well with regard to fighting corruption within the judiciary, and that this is owing to the fact it does not have enough powers.

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He said: “The NJC is not the appropriate body for the functions assigned to it.

“The body needs to be revamped for the effective discharge of the functions assigned to it.

“It is meant to be a body to discipline judges, but because it is made up of judges, it cannot work.”The constitutional lawyer, 85, said beyond the NJC, a lot of things are wrong with the country’s legal system.

The constitutional lawyer, 85, said beyond the NJC, a lot of things are wrong with the country’s legal system.

These, he said, include the system of investigation and prosecution of the police, which is not efficient.

“It is slow, cumbersome and the problem is compounded by corruption. It is corruption that has made it slow,” he added.

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