The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned in strong terms the recent criticism of the judiciary in the fight against corruption.
Speaking at the valedictory session organised in honour of a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mohammed Muntaka-Coomassie, NBA President, Augustine Alegeh, said the recent attack directed at the judiciary over the ongoing anti-corruption war was unacceptable.
“The NBA condemns in its entirety the generalisation and/or categorisation of the Judiciary as being corrupt and an impediment to the zero corruption policy of the present administration,” Mr. Alegeh said.
Mr. Alegeh noted that although there were bad eggs in the system, the categorisation of the entire judiciary as corrupt was a strong misconception, and an attempt to intimidate the judiciary, which he said would not be tolerated.
Although the NBA chief did not mention President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech, it was clear the President was one of those to which the comment was directed.
Mr. Buhari is the most prominent Nigerian official to criticise the judiciary in recent times.
The President had while speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 31, said his biggest headache in the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria remained the actions and inactions of the judiciary.
“On the fight against corruption vis-à-vis the judiciary, Nigerians will be right to say that is my main headache for now,” Mr. Buhari said.
He further explained that he could more effectively tackle the corruption problem in the country with the strong support of the judiciary.
The president then said far-reaching reforms of the judiciary remained a key priority of his administration.
But at the event in Abuja Wednesday, the NBA President, Mr. Alegeh, said such generations and categorisations of the judiciary as being an obstacle to the anti-corruption crusade was aimed at intimidating the judiciary.
He also described such a comment as one aimed at intimidating the judiciary.
Such an intimidation ploy, he said, would be resisted.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohamed, said the judiciary was duty bound to act in accordance with the dictates of the law, not that made by critics.
“The Nigerian Judiciary, though constantly striving to redress the wrongs and tilt the balance in favour of that which is right, has recently had to face the backlash of misguided opinions fashioned without due consideration of the law,” Mr. Mohammed said.
The celebrant, Mr. Muntaka-Kumassie called for the recognition of the chief justice as number four in the hierarchy of the nation’s leadership.
He spoke of the need for increase in the salaries of judges across the nation, while also urging the NBA to strengthen the relationship between members of the bar and the bench.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Abdullahi Ibrahim described Mr. Muntaka-Coomassie as a defender of human rights and a proponent of strict adherence to the rule of law.