Lawyers laud NJC for recommending sack of dubious judges

The Nigerian lawyers all commended the NJC for its actions.

Some lawyers on Thursday commended the National Judicial Council for recommending the compulsory retirement of two judges for alleged unethical practices.

The judges are Justice Thomas Naron, who presided over the Osun State Gubernatorial Electoral Petition Tribunal in 2008 and Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court.

The recommendation followed an emergency meeting of the council on Wednesday.

The NJC also set up a fact finding committee to investigate allegations against another judge, Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court, on his judgment in the EFCC against John Yusuf in the police pension scam case.

Mr. Talba on January 28 sentenced Mr. Yusuf to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of N750,000 for his role in the theft of N20 billion in pension funds.

Wednesday’s meeting was presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Maryam Mukhtar.

A lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, said that the decision of the NJC was a welcome development and a step in the right direction and urged it to carry out a thorough sanitisation of the judiciary.

“I have no problem with the decision of the NJC, if these judges have been found guilty of unethical practices.

“I believe they were given fair hearing before the decision was reached, and so their sack will only send warning signals to other corrupt judges,” the lawyer said.

According to Mr. Aturu, some lawyers also aid judges in carrying out unethical practices, and this is detrimental to judicial integrity.

He urged the Chief Justice to ensure thorough cleansing of the judiciary so as to restore public confidence.

Another lawyer, Yemi Candide-Johnson, said it was sad that there existed a handful of corrupt and incompetent judges among the distinguished benchers.

He said that the sack of these judges was not adequate as more had to be done to weed the judiciary of rotten eggs.

“That two of these judges have been flushed out by the NJC is not sufficient, but it is timely and long overdue for a proper scrutiny of affairs of judicial officers.

“Justice has become so debased by this sort of activity that not just credibility and dignity but also the very utility of the judiciary has become in doubt. If the NJC does not clean up the Augean stable, then there will be a complete erosion of judicial integrity in Nigeria” Mr. Candide-Johnson said.

In his reaction, lawyer and social critic, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, commended the council for the bold decision to sanitise the judiciary.

Mr. Olu-Adegboruwa said that the sack of these judges would no doubt send warning signals to others who are treading the same path.

He added that it was particularly important to restore public confidence in the judiciary and urged the NJC to set up a monitoring and evaluation committee to tackle corruption among judicial officers.

The activist said that such a committee would check the excesses of judges without having to wait for litigants to lodge a petition against them.


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