Buhari Should Fight Back Corruption Now
By Mashood Erubami
The Nigeria Voter Assembly has publicly lamented that it now appears that the Bar is becoming the perennial blockage to the anti-corruption revolution going on in Nigeria and called on the President to be ready to step on toes and crush the legs of any legal personalities that are standing against the war against corruption. Nobody should be above the law, because in other sane Countries, highly placed judicial officers, Prime Ministers and Presidents have been prosecuted, found guilty, and sentenced to appropriate imprisonments.
It is unthinkable, unacceptable and unconstitutional for so-called legal luminaries and Senior Advocates to rise in defence of two laws in the society, one for the rich and other for the poor. How many times had the Bar raised its opinion for the poor in this country? It is anomalous for the Bar and some Senior Advocates of Nigeria to rise against the prosecution of the CJN in Nigeria when there are very clear evidences on which he can be prosecuted.
It is fact that has gone viral that the Petition written and submitted to all appropriate institutions against the CJN was not raised to remove the CJN from office as being ignorantly peddled around but clearly initiated to report some anomalies that the CJN have been allegedly committed which allegedly stand against him as the highest office holder in the Judiciary and that if not used to try him might create a heavy dent on the third but most important key institution of government, being the expected arbiters of disagreement that could break out between the Executive and the Legislature.
The judicial pronouncement being sought from the CCT is not about the removal of the CJN but only about his culpability, it can therefore not be contemptuous and denigrating to the Judiciary unless we would be operating two laws, one for the Poor and the other for the legal elites.
In fact the case was taken before the CCT not for the removal of the CJN but to try him against definite allegations investigated against him to which he is expected to provide very strong defence.
It is therefore pitiable, that most supportive lawyers from the BAR and the SANs are talking about the constitutional provision for the removal of the CJN to hide the real issue of corruption and abuse of office away from the people who are usually the victims of all unethical practices in government.
Perhaps in the absence of immunity for Judicial officers who work for government, Lawyers would want to quickly point to the role of the NJC when any of them perform their duties unethically despite knowing that the CJN, is the Chair of the same NJC that will set up Panel for the investigation of his case while the other members are his Nominees and juniors, these supporting lawyers want Judicial Officers to commit untold acts of Corruption and hide under the law when it is very clear that the CJN who is being accused, cannot be the Chairman in his own case. Pitiably, the next most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court shall be the Deputy Chairman who is also appointed by the same CJN.
The other members of this Judicial Council shall be his Juniors from the Court of Appeal and five retired justices selected by the Chief Justice himself or his deputy, if the CJN is displaced from office.
These retired Justices who are also members of NJC, shall be of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal. In addition the current Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, five Chief Justices of the state or of the Federal High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, one Grand Kadi from among Grand Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal, President of the Customary Court of Appeal from among the President of the Customary Courts of Appeal, five members of the Nigeria Bar Association and two persons not being legal practitioners but in the opinion of the Chief Justice of Nigeria are of unquestionable integrity, making the Council water tight and full of appointees of the Chief Justice himself hence their independent mindedness will be doubtful.
The President should cause the government to look for another Body to handle the case and verify the claims of ignorance and forgetfulness that CJN should fully declare his Assets, this is an unpardonable misdemeanor that must not only be put in the front burner of public discourse and Justice but taken before an incorruptible Tribunal Judge to adjudicate over.
It must be considered all the more, denigrating for the most Senior Judicial Officer to feign ignorance of his duties under the law, when the Bar, whose members are part of the NJC will be quick to say that; “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”
The Nigeria public too, who are the victims of any corruption should not allow the same lawyers who in the past have used the issue of Jurisdiction to waste time and undermined the principles inherent in the CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADJUDICATION SYSTEM, they should not allow the concept of “esprit de corps” to allow the Bar and the Bench in collusion let the accused go away with the loots of alleged Corruption. Most Senior Judicial Officers that have gone through the NJC have gone home with the loots of Corruption which they were alleged to have committed, because substantial justice was not made the issue.
THE PRESIDENT and Nigerians should not keep quite in the face of these allegations to condone oppression and injustice in order not to be an accomplice and masterminds of this corrupt practices.
The issues are that the Bank mentioned in the Petition never denied the ownership of the Accounts, the balances extended on the accounts, Euro, and Pound sterling domiciliary and Naira accounts that have been diligently investigated and ascertained before the charge sheets were raised are not in dispute, the CJN should appear with his strong defence that the accounts are not his own or that the monies are his, from his salaries and estacode.
It will seems unethical to use the law and the position one occupies to hide, and commit corruption and plead justification under the same law, not accepting the allegation against him but use the jurisdiction of the NJC not being the first to try him as a proper excuse to secure acquittal.
The President must ignore as mere vituperations , the loud noise and threats from the South-South, nobody should turn this matter into politics and should not be triabalized or ethniciszed, instead, we should all join hands to criminalize appropriately.
The noise against the timing of the trial is also not of essence just as the petition was not targeted against the judiciary, and cannot make a dent on the Judiciary, but the act of corruption is, when for obvious reasons, the NJC leadership, has allegedly refused to let the Petition see the light of the day.
The Court of Appeal decision being ceaselessly quoted in Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA) “ have not truly been up turned by a higher Court.but this cannot blue said to be a decisive hindrance to taking any Judicial Officer to Courts of competent jurisdiction if misdemeanors are committed.
The Court of Appeal precedent is derogated, if the NJC is quite aware and is seized of all the facts but still refuse to treat the case as its own, foremost and still fail to act to carry out investigation and pronounce appropriately, the prosecuting agencies of the Federal Government can proceed legal action against accused judicial officer.
The Judicial arm of government is the last hope of the common and vulnerable Nigerians, it must not only be responsible but also credible and above board.
In this regards, Nigerians and their President should strongly resist any judicial gang-up that seek to truncate the case from being treated appropriately, as was the case of Senator Saraki which some corrupt members of the Bar still see as a political act against him, allowing huge public money to be coasted home by the corruption exposed. The Judiciary is a key government institution from where Nigerians expect to drink undiluted milk of Justice.
*Comrade Mashood Erubami, President, Nigeria Voters Assembly wrote in from Ibadan
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