Human right lawyer, Femi Falana has berated the National Judicial Council, NJC, for shielding some judges alleged to be corrupt. This was as the Senior Advocate alleged that the NJC sees some judges as untouchable. Just a day ago, the judicial body had maintained that it cannot hand over alleged corrupt judges to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for investigation and prosecution.
NJC made the remark in response to a request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, that the seven judges recently arrested for alleged corruption be handed over to the EFCC. But the activist lawyer in a chat said, “I do know that there are some judges that are untouchable as far as the NJC is concerned. For instance, I submitted a petition against a judge at the NJC headquarters in Abuja.
According to the Senior lawyer, “On returning to Lagos many people had called me to withdraw the petition. Even the secretariat of the NJC pleaded with me to temper justice with mercy. “Since the NJC claimed to have dealt with all petitions I have asked for the decision of the body in respect of my petition. Judicial corruption I just cannot understand the seeming cover up of misconduct on the part of some judges by the NJC.“In the instant case the details of the allegations of judicial corruption are in the public domain. The huge funds recovered from the homes of some of the judges during the raid have been disclosed. Each of the embattled judges has sent a written defense to the NJC.”
Falana wondered why the NJC is drag-footing in constituting a disciplinary measure that will deal with the alleged corrupt judges. “For goodness sake what other report is the NJC waiting for from the DSS before embarking on an investigation of the unprecedented scandal that has shaken the nation’s judiciary to its foundation? “If the NJC had treated the scandal with the urgency it required the image of the judiciary would not have been so badly dented. “Last year when some judges were recorded on tape while negotiating bribes in Ghana, the judicial authorities in that country did not wait for any formal report from the journalist, Anas Arameyaw Anas who carried out the sting operation.
“The judges who were identified in the tape were immediately placed on suspension while a full scale inquiry was ordered. At the end of the inquiry, 22 judges were removed from the system. “But the NJC has said that the judges would not be suspended without an investigation. With profound respect, there is no precedent for the stand of the NJC,” he said