Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has slammed the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for calling for the unconditional release of the judges arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The DSS raided the houses of four Supreme Court judges in the early hours of Saturday, October 8, 2016.
The human rights lawyer described the NBA’s action as an embarrassment to members of the body who are not corrupt.
He also called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami to make sure they are arraigned without delay.
He said “In particular, the Nigerian Bar Association which has information on all corrupt judges and lawyers in the country has continued to shield them to the embarrassment of incorruptible members of the bar and the bench.
“The few lawyers who have plucked up the courage to expose corrupt judges and lawyers have been stigmatised and treated like lepers by their colleagues.
“It is on record that when both the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sent invitation letters to judges suspected of corruption they had rushed to the Federal High Court to obtain interlocutory injunctions to prevent their arrest, investigation and prosecution.”
Adding that “It is on account of negligence on the part of the legal profession that the SSS which screens candidates before they are recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges has now engaged in the arrest of judges for alleged corruption and abuse of office.”
He also said “It is a matter of grave concern that the legal profession has allowed the denigration of the hallowed temple of justice because of the misconduct of a few corrupt judges.
“For several years, judges who committed grave criminal offences were not prosecuted but merely retired by the authorities on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.
“Although the National Judicial Council recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting the sum of N197m from a litigant the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country.”
According to reports, the DSS seized $800,000 in cash during the raids on the judges’ homes.
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We support the prosecution of corrupt people judges and lawyers inclusive. What worries us is how we are going about. We should not allow praise-singing to becloud sheer impunity.