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NBA urges EFCC to publish names of corrupt Judges under probe

By The Citizen

Concerned about the level of corruption within the justice sector, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to make public the names of all the sitting Judges currently under investigation, saying it will be in the interest of the nation to 'name and shame' such judicial officers.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the National President of the NBA, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, said the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the organization, at the end of its meting at Lafia, Nasarawa State on November 22, 'resolved to welcome prompt action on such investigations and developments.'

Nevertheless, NBA, said it would not stand by and watch politicians rubbish the reputation of any good and hard working judge across the federation through frivolous petitions to anti-graft agencies, noting that 'a situation where people go on air with impunity and make allegations against members of the Bench, and are not called upon to substantiate, cannot be good for our judiciary.'

Consequently, it urged the NJC and security agencies to thoroughly investigate such allegations, and when established, 'punish the Judicial officer involved and if the allegations is found to be false and a mere smear campaign and blackmail, prosecute and punish the person making such spurious allegation for false information.

Wali, SAN, said NEC of the legal body observed that it had kept reading in the media that judgments were being investigated by EFCC, lamenting that for the past one year, nothing substantial had come out of such probe.

'The fact that we have had such reports coming out for the last one year and nothing to show for it is not good for our system. Unless and until we name and shame those that are being investigated, every Judge is a suspect and that is not good for our morale.

'The NBA is worried over the fact that some politicians are beginning to drag the Judiciary into their problems, in view of the fact that all sought of orders and rulings are being procured. To this end, the NBA-NEC resolved that it would not allow the judiciary to be destroyed, and called on the NJC and NBA to rise to the occasion.

'While the NBA is determined to fight corruption on the Bench, the NBA shall also seek the protection of our good and hardworking Judges, who are in the majority. NBA will not allow politicians to destroy the Bench with their well established culture of impunity.

'With regards to the members of the NBA involved in the unwholesome act, the NBA-NEC resolved to move the NBA Disciplinary Machinery a nudge higher to the corruption of filing frivolous applications, and seeking orders that constitute abuse of court process to satisfy their political clients, NEC, resolved not to allow this to continue towards 2015', he added.

On Anambra election, the NBA, said it views as very embarrassing and unacceptable, the inconclusiveness of the November 16 Governorship poll, 'occasioned by operational and logistic challenges in an election supervised by six National Commissioners, 15 Resident Electoral Commissioners and a galaxy of permanent staff from the contiguous states.'

It maintained that INEC, has the powers to order for a supplementary election, saying any of the parties dissatisfies with the decision should go to court.

According to NBA, 'The inconclusiveness of the said election and the serious operational and logistics challenges that gave rise to the supplementary elections have created serious doubts in the minds of Nigerians, regarding the preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct acceptable elections in 2015.

'The NBA is also concerned that there apparently, still are, highly compromised officials within the Commission and these officials have been playing critical roles in the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

'NBA therefore recommends and canvasses that all the officials identified to have compromised their oath of office and official functions in the conduct of the Anambra Governorship elections should be arrested and proceeded against in properly constituted courts.

'That INEC and the National Assembly must move fact and finalize the promulgation of the Electoral Offences Commission Act to deal with the arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders. Such a Commission will be in a better position to deal with the challenges posed to our electoral process by the brazen commission of electoral offences in our electoral process.

'INEC must carry out a surgical operation of its processes and procedures. It must tackle frontally the recurring challenges of operational and logistic failure ahead of the 2015 general elections. The INEC mist also intensify continuous voters' registration and weed out the fraudulent names that are self evident in the current register, as this is fundamental to the credibility of future elections.

'All political parties and candidates who contested the November 16 Governorship elections in Anambra State should carry out their protests within the ambit of the law and the constitution. The complaints, petitions and grievances relating to the election, must also conform with the provisions of the constitution and the electoral Act. All the candidates and political parties must renew their faith in the courts as their final arbiter in our electoral process.'

Besides, NBA, while urging governments at all levels to compensate victims of terrorism, said it supports the propo0sed National Dialogue/Conference on the condition that the report shall be final, binding, and validated by Nigerians through a referendum.