50 NGOs threaten to ground judiciary

The Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations that comprises over 50 NGOs, on Monday, threatened to ground the judicial system if the indicted judges in the bribery scandals were not prosecuted.

The forum, at a press briefing in Abuja, also called for immediate resignations of indicted judges, saying they “have been tainted in the court of public opinion,” hence the need to clear themselves of the allegations against them.

The chairman of the forum, Mr Wole Badmus, who spoke on behalf of the forum, said: “We are, hereby, calling on the serving judges/justices among who were arrested by the DSS to immediately step down, since the conniving NJC is not willing to suspend them. Even though the arrested judges/justices have not been declared guilty by any court of law, they have been tainted in the court of public opinion and their positions are no longer tenable until they have been able to clear themselves of the allegations against them.”

According to him, “If the affected judges/justices fail to step down, we will mobilise Nigerians to besiege their courts until they have heeded the call to step down, which even their allies, the NBA, as well as the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, has endorsed.

“We will also embark on a peaceful demonstration in support of the battle to rid the judiciary of bad eggs,” he stated.

The chairman of the forum also maintained that “we don’t believe the Nigerian Judiciary is corrupt, but that there is corruption in the Nigerian Judiciary. We are aware that there are many men and women of integrity in the judiciary, hence we will not want to tar this important arm of government with a common brush.

The forum questioned why the NJC is ‘shielding’ the indicted justices from being prosecuted. They also argued, citing Section 2 (3) of the National Security Agencies Act 1986, the powers conferred on the Department of State Security Services to prosecute financial crimes.

“Our research shows that the NJC has been engaged only in a cosmetic fight against bad eggs in the judiciary, between 2000 and 2016, not one of the 73 judges sanctioned by the NJC for various acts of corruption was prosecuted! The NJC has also refused to release the records of the proceedings in recommending sanctions against those judges. Not even the freedom of information act has compelled the NJC to release the records. If this is not a cover up, what is it?” he stated.