By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Stake- holders in the justice sector, Tuesday, proffered solutions on how to effectively tackle corruption in the country, even as they tasked the Federal Government on strict adherence to the rule of law.
Some of the senior legal practitioners who spoke during an investiture ceremony that was organised by the National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NAILS, in Abuja, said the country would make headway in its anti-corruption drive when critical stakeholders in the legal system, including judges, prosecutions, police and advocates, share similar commitment.
The guest speaker at the event and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, described corruption as a heavy burden currently pressing Nigeria to the background.
He said: “There is no doubt that corruption has become a burden in Nigeria, and is to be blamed for the current regrettable position of the Nigerian state. Like a cankerworm or even a killer virus, it has eaten deep and permeated the very organ and lifeblood of the nation to a near state of being comatose.
“It is a fact that corruption has become notorious in Nigeria to the extent that even the least ranking officer in a public office can hold a person to ransom in order to achieve a corrupt end.
“Also, corruption has become institutionalized to the extent that non receipted phony fees are demanded and collected from prospective applicants, by several government agencies. This troubling scenario has created a vast field of partakers and victims of corrupt practices, high and low alike.
“The most important sine-qua-non for the success of the fight against corruption is strict adherence to the rule of law. The question here now is, do we do that in this part of the world?
“Without the rule of law, there cannot be tremendous achievement in the fight against corruption.”
Nevertheless, Gadzama, SAN, stressed that lawyers are critical to the well being of the nation, saying they owe the profession a serious and uncompromising duty to keep it hallowed and respected.
“There is a growing perception that members of the Bar, as well as Judges are using the law to suppress the truth while aiding corrupt politicians.
“This perception is unhealthy and toxic to the legal profession and the nation at large and must be addressed in a timely and expeditious manner.
“Lawyers owe a duty to the nation and the society to ensure that corruption, criminality and all forms of impunity are fought conscientiously and resolutely, and eradicated in all facets of our national life.”
“The most fundamental requirement is for us to have credible lawyers (including lawmakers and law enforcers) to take the lead. The rule of law cannot thrive without credible lawyers who have a strong sense of justice. The absence of credible lawyers to carry out the tenets of the rule of law presents a further disincentive to corruption eradication.
“A clean legal system is imperative to stop corruption. Today, there are too many “corrupt lawyers” and celebrity lawyers, who inappropriately receive too much publicity.
“We must take an active step in self-cleansing. We as lawyers should shun the attitude of …as NAILS confers fellowship award on eminent judges, lawyers