By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his fight against corruption was conducted within the ambit of the law.
NBA, which is the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country, decried what it described as over-zealousness by security agencies currently engaged in the prosecution of alleged corrupt persons, who it said had by their conduct, exhibited little regard for the due process of the law.
National President of the association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, spoke at a valedictory court session held in honour of Justice Muhammad Muntaka-Coomassie, who bowed out of the Supreme Court bench, yesterday, upon clocking the 70 years mandatory retirement age.
He lamented that recently, “security operatives moved inside a court room to arrest a suspect. We wondered why they could not wait for the person to step out of the court before executing the arrest. While we commend the ongoing effort to rid the nation of corruption, what we are saying is that the fight must be conducted within the law.
“The NBA does not condone corruption, our point is that the war can be conducted within the armbit of the law and civility. Certainly, it can be won without breaching the principles of rule of law upon which our democracy is built.”
Corruption within the Judiciary
On the issue of corruption within the Judiciary, the NBA President acknowledged that there were “bad eggs” within the bar and the bench.
He said: “Petition any judicial officer involved in or suspected to be involved in any corrupt or fraudulent transaction to the appropriate quarters for action.
“The NBA condemns in its entirety the generalisation and/or categorization of the Judiciary as being corrupt and an impediment to the zero corruption policy of the present administration.
“While acknowledging that there may be a few bad eggs in the system, the NBA restates unequivocally that the categorization of the entire Judiciary as corrupt is a misconception and will stand solidly behind the Judiciary in any attempt to intimidate or harrass its personnel.
“The NBA, however, wishes to sound a note of warning to the few eggs in the system to desist from further causing untoward embarrassment to the Judicial arm of government. We believe that a word is enough for the wise and that wise counsel will prevail in this regard.”
Besides, the legal body used the opportunity to call for an increase of Supreme Court Justices to 21, in line with the provisions of section 230(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution, as amended.