Senior lawyers in Nigeria have lamented the failure of the judiciary to independently address cases of corruption among its officials.
Speaking at a valedictory session in honour of the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, a representative of the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Thompson Okpoko, said the judiciary has remained silent for far too long against complaints of corruption.
“We have kept a blind eye to our problems for far too long. We have looked the other way… we have allowed rules to be twisted or bent against expected standard,” said Mr. Okpoko, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
He called on judicial officers to put behind them what he described as “lamentations” about the recent developments in the fight against corruption. He asked them to join hands with the National Judicial Council, NJC, to bring about an eradication of corruption in the sector.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmud, said although the arrest of some judges by operatives of the State Security Service goes against the provision of the constitution, there was the need to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
Mr. Mahmud expressed hope that the NJC will rise to the challenge of restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
Both senior advocates spoke weeks after seven judges were arrested in midnight raids by the SSS who accused them of corruption. The mode of arrest of the judges polarised Nigerians with some in support and others condemning the move. The seven judges, including two Supreme Court justices, have since been suspended while charges have been filed against one of them.
However, on Thursday in his valedictory speech delivered at the event, Mr. Mahmud noted the efforts of the judiciary towards ensuring the continuity of Nigeria.
“Our nation owes the judiciary a debt of gratitude for standing firm in the face of contrary winds that threatened to blow our nation’s democracy off course,” the outgoing chief justice said.
“During the run up to the 2015 elections, our judicial officers withstood image pressure in order to guaranty a level playing field and smooth transition of government.”
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