A retired Nigerian judge is canvassing for the creation of a union that can protect the interests of judges in the country.
Ifiok Ukana, who retired a few days ago from the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, said, “There are cases you handle (as a judge) and you step on toes and life becomes difficult for you.”
The Nigerian judiciary is perpetually under assault, Mr Ukana said on February 25 at a valedictory service in Uyo, held in his honour by the Akwa Ibom state judiciary.
“For me, that is not strange because power has always been a contest between the executive and the judiciary,” he added.
“The emerging trend shows that the judiciary will not be left alone (to perform its functions).
“Individual responses will always be inadequate, the NJC is inadequate as a protective device, prayer points by individual judges may be efficacious but when one is attacked all must see themselves as having been attacked.
“Presently, there is no association that cares for judges. Anyone in trouble stands alone in that trouble, others sympathise from a distance without any effective arrangement.”
The retired judge, in his speech, said he has been trailed by Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service (SSS) for two years because of a politically sensitive case that was before his court.
He said he could not get any help from the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom state, Justice Godwin Abraham, when he reported to him how he was being trailed.
Mr Ukana said Mr Abraham had, at some point when he was seeking for his intervention, retorted, “Who will believe you that these men are after you?”
“The last two and a half years for me has been one of great pain and regret,” the retired judge said to a large audience which comprised judges, lawyers, politicians and ordinary Nigerians who came out to honour him.
“I have shared with many of my learned brothers and they know my travails on the bench.
“The SSS was released against me from July 2017 up till this morning. If you come to my neighbourhood you’ll see them there. What are they looking for? What is their mission?
“I sit next to the chief judge, a believer, and a friend. But I regret to say in this moment of trial, he did not come to my aid.”
Mr Ukana said, “I look forward to a time, and I know that time will come when judges will come (together) under an umbrella, in the manner of a union, whether this country likes it or not.
“Because the present arrangement is not in their interest, they may not know but they would come to know. I am saying this out of experience.”
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