BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN – AGAINST the background of the statement credited to the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mahmoud Abubakar (SAN) that judges that were arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS) for alleged corruption should step aside from their judicial duties, a Benin based legal practitioner, Mr. Afolabi Olayiwola has called on the NBA President to resign from office insisting that he cannot approbate and reprobate.
He also called on the Ministers of Transportation and Science and Technology, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonnaya Onu to resign from their offices even as he called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a high level of inquiry to investigate the complicity of the Ministers of the allegations against them by the two Supreme Court Justices.
Olayiwola who spoke to journalists yesterday in Benin while reacting to the statement by the NBA president said, “the view that the judges should step aside is his own. There was never a time that the NBA was called to discuss the issue.
” I am actually ashamed of that view because as lawyers and judges, we are known for constituencies. That was not his original view before now. Suddenly he just changed that view.
“If he says that Judges should leave the bench based on allegations against them of which there are no petitions before the NJC, what about the allegations by two Supreme Court Justices against two Ministers, Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonnaya Onu? The two men should resign their appointments.
” I support the view expressed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Muhammed that the affected judges will not be forced to step aside. We should not the Executive arm of government to rubbish the judiciary.
“Nobody is saying that corruption allegations should not be investigated, but the point is that you cannot go to somebody’s house at the wee hours of the day with sledge hammer, break doors with guns pointing at them with the excuse of looking for evidence.
” You cannot do that to a governor or even the President at night or else you will be killed. The judicial officials and that of the executive are of equal footing constitutionally.
He insisted that the NJC, the body invested constitutionally to discipline judges and other judicial officials was doing a lot to clean the judiciary, adding that they should be supported instead of mobilization against the body.
“With what is happening now in the country, there a serious threat against the judiciary. Judges will feel threatened to give judgments against the government, so the independent of the judiciary must be allowed to stand”