A non-governmental organisation, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, has faulted a statement by the National Judicial Council, claiming it never shielded judges accused of misconduct.
In the said statement issued by its Acting Director, Information, Mr. Soji Oye, after the council completed an emergency meeting over the October 8 and 9 raids and arrest of seven judges, the NJC said it had just two pending petition against two of the seven arrested judges.
But in a fresh petition dated October 14, 2016, signed and sent to the NJC by its Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC said it had as an organisation filed over 10 petitions of misconduct of some judges that the NJC never investigated.
CSNAC’s petition is titled, ‘Cover up of judicial corruption and Impunity by the National Judicial Council’.
Suraju said though a Federal High Court judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, had been recommended for compulsory retirement by the NJC, CSNAC’s petition accusing the retired judge of frustrating anti-corruption fight by restraining anti-corruption agencies perpetually from investigating alleged crimes involving billions of naira was never investigated by the NJC.
Suraju said, “Contrary to such claim, CSNAC wishes to state that the deliberate refusal of the NJC to investigate and sanction judges accused of corruption, abuse of office and other acts of misconduct by members of the public has encouraged judicial corruption in the country. corruption and impunity is endemic in Nigeria’s judicial system.
“In other words, the outright failure of the judiciary to purge the Nigerian judicial system of corrupt practices has eroded public confidence in the judiciary. Indeed, the disciplinary measures meted out to some erring judges has cast serious doubt on the expressed commitment of the NJC to restore public confidence in the country’s judiciary.”
CSNAC also dismissed the NJC’s claim of being committed to President Muhammadu’s vow to fighting corruption.
The petition also read, “The claim of the NJC that it is committed to the anti corruption policy of the Muhammedu Buhari Administration flies in the face of the granting of frivolous injunctions issued by judges which have frustrated the investigation and prosecution of politically exposed persons and people accused of corruption. In several other cases, judges involved in the trial of corruption cases as well as the appellate courts have granted stay of proceedings to stall the prosecution of corrupt people in the society.
“Apart from the case of Justice Mohammed Yunusa who was recently recommended for retirement by the NJC, no other judge has been sanctioned by the NJC for frustrating the fight against corruption. Even in the case of Justice Yunusa the NJC failed to act until the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) had to compile seven cases in which the judge granted perpetual injunction to restrain the EFCC, ICPC and the offices of the Inspector-General of Police and Attorney-General of the Federation from prosecuting some persons accused of criminal diversion of billions of naira.
“There are over 10 petitions forwarded to NJC against the misconducts of judicial officers, and CSNAC queries why the NJC decided not to investigate and sanction judges alleged of judicial corruption in the petitions.
“CSNAC is of firm opinion that corruption and impunity in the judiciary 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 NJC to join the calls to rid the judiciary of bad eggs, in the interest of justice, democracy and good governance.”