*As NBA, jurists decry corruption in judiciary
By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”Former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kayode Eso, SAN, said yesterday that Nigeria would only survive as a nation if the 2011 general elections were free and fair.
He spoke on a day the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and eminent retired jurists opened up to raise an alarm over what they called shameful incidence of corruption in the judiciary.
The occasion was a symposium organised by the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation on â€œCourts and Management of Election Petitions: Challenges, Prospects and Solutions.â€ Justice Kayode Eso delivered the keynote address, yesterday, represented byÂ another retired jurist, Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin.
Eso said the nation had earned the identity of election-rigging. He said, â€œhardly had there been any election in the history of the country, apart from the June 12, 1993 election, which unfortunately was undemocratically annulled, that allegations of rigging had not pervaded the scene.
â€œThe last election has the singular dishonour of being one of the worst in any democratic country so-called.â€
Eso, however, noted that allegations of corruption against election tribunals have been most disgraceful. He said, â€œwhat is more staggering than this attitude, is the factÂ that the allegations have practically been left un-investigated. Or, to be benevolent, if even investigated, the proceedings and the results of such investigations are not made public.â€
He said most people who were at the helm of governance of the country were ignorant of the act, those who knew the act of governance were prevented from participating .
According to him, the act of good governance is what the country needs badly. HeÂ accused political parties of commercializing their activities and in particular the method of selection of those who would govern.
Other speakers at the event included the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, ChiefÂ Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and the Chairman of the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (retired). Akanbi J who was the pioneer Chairman of ICPC used the opportunity of the forum to raise an alarm over the prevalence of corruption in the judiciary.
Akanbi who said that he did not want to believe that the judiciary was corrupt said he had to change his mind after talking to lawyers and judges.
He said, â€œwe can not therefore pretend to be oblivious of what is going on in our society on what has become market place discussion or common knowledge.
He said that the foundationÂ was impelled by the outcry and the criticisms of the judiciary in recent times by well meaning and highly placed Nigerians, local and international bodies, to turn the search light on corruption in the judiciary.
He said that the time had come for the judiciary to rise up and put its house in order by pushing out all corrupt judges from the system.
Akeredolu, the NBA boss also corroborated Justice Mustaphaâ€™s position.
He said that the days when the ordinary man looked up to the judiciary as their last hope were gradually being confined to history.
He said that no one could deny the existence of corruption in the judiciary.
Akeredolu pointed out that election petitions had further exposed judges to bribery.