By NBF News

Former information minister and elderstatesman, Chief Edwin Clark has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher to declare a state of emergency in the nation's judiciary to tackle the disturbing rate of corruption that has be-deviled the sector.

In that connection, the octogenarian and ex-senator who hailed the ongoing reforms in the judiciary adviced the CJN to banish all corrupt judicial officers and those who could not stand the test of the reform programme.

In a letter addressed to the chief justice of Nigeria and dated November 2, the Ijaw leader and lawyer of 46 years who lamented the rot in the judiciary called on Justice Dahiru Musdapher to take the bull by the horn and direct judges handling corruption cases involving former governors to dispense with such matters within a period of six to 12 months as justice delayed was justice denied.

Throwing his weight behind the creation of special courts to handle corruption related cases, Chief Clark said it would assist anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to prosecute their cases without delay.

'I support the creation of special courts in the six geo-political zones to handle these high profile cases and at the end, Nigeria will occupy its position of honour and within your tenure of office and the present administration, Nigeria would have been out of the list of corrupt nations,' he stated.

Besides, Clarke called on the CJN to immediately examine and investigate the role some of the judges have played in thwarting all efforts to eradicate corruption or reduce corruption in the nation.

Paragraph 11 of the letter reads: 'My lord, in your crusade to clean up the judiciary, I strongly advise that you immediately examine and investigate the role some of the judges have played in thwarting all efforts to eradicate corruption or reduce corruption in our society.

A situation whereby over 50 high profile cases of corruption levelled against some former governors, ministers and legislators and other high profile government functionaries have been pending in Federal High Court and Court of Appeal for over four years due to corrupt practices both in the judiciary and at the bar, is most unacceptable because it is definitely responsible for placing Nigeria at the bottom index of corrupt countries in the world such as Somalia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, among others.'

He equally condemned what he called 'fraudulent application plea bargain,' citing the case of former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion whom he said refunded some of his loot and was heading for jail sentence when suddenly he was given an option of fine to wriggle out of the hook. Specifically, Clark quoted EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri at the 35th annual convention of Black Mayors in Las Vegas USA as saying, 'Igbinedion who got a slap on wrist after he admitted to looting the state treasury and all the parties in the case, including the Judge had agreed on his sentence.

'When Igbinedion's lawyer came to discuss with our lawyer about plea bargaining that he wanted to return some of the looted funds, we agreed. We worked together; he forfeited some things like houses in Edo, Lagos and Abuja, also some monies and companies. But when we got to court, the shock was from the court, I never got over it for a long, long time because instead of the sentence as it was agreed, the Judge gave him an option of fine. I think it was N3.5m. He brought the money from the boot of his car and paid the fine there and then'.

Similarly, he wondered why former governor of Rivers state, Dr. Peter Odili has defied EFCC trial in the court even as he frowned at injunctive orders secured by Odili to stop his arrest, prosecution or trial in the allegation relating to N25 billion which he was accused of using to float an Airline.