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Election petition: NBA calls for sack of corrupt judges before 2011

…faults CJN over appointment of S-Court justices

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, insisted that unless the mounting allegations of corruption levelled against the judiciary was taken very seriously, dishonest politicians might resort to using judges to alter results of the 2011 general elections in the country, even as the legal body equally faulted the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, over appointment of Supreme Court Justices.

NBA, which raised this alarm during a valedictory court session organised for a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ikechi Francis Ogbuagu, yesterday, went ahead to canvass the resuscitation of constitutional courts in the country, warning that the Nigerian legal system might collapse as a result of what it termed “unnecessary emphasis on election cases.”

According to a paper presented by tNBA National President, Mr. J.B Daudu, SAN, “about two weeks ago, when your lordship, the Hon. CJN, swore in two additional entrants into the exalted bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, you commented on the growing accusations of corruption levelled against the judiciary by some eminent jurists and bar leaders.

“I cannot and do not wish to join issues with your lordship on the remarks you made thereon. However, when eminent jurists, such as the retired Hon. Esho JSC, Hon. Akanbi P.C.A, and many others, charge that the judiciary is getting irredeemably corrupt; such claims ought to be taken very seriously.

“What has brought this issue to the fore is the electoral justice jurisdiction conferred on court. These courts have the capacity and power to alter results of election brought before them by a stroke of the pen.

“The desperation of most Nigerian politicians knows no bounds and if electoral officials can be influenced to alter election results ( as have been found to be so from numerous findings made by tribunals and appellate court), is it Judges and Justices that will not be sought after for influence?

“One indisputable fact about politicians is that they are prone to publicizing facts that others think were concluded in secret.

“Consequently, everybody hears about the bloated sums that have been given to judicial officers so that the desires of elective office seekers can be satisfied.

“It is not for nothing that the finality of certain courts in election matters has been displaced, leaving finality to the Supreme Court.

“That measure shows the level of confidence the legislature still reposes in the apex court. One point is, however, clear, if the warning signals raised on the issue of corruption is not heeded, jurisdiction may one day be taken away from regular courts on election matters.


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