Falana blames NJC, NBA for rot in judiciary

•Wants AGF to arraign arrested judges in court

A Lagos-based legal luminary, Mr Femi Falana, has urged the Attorney-General of the Federation to arraign the three judges arrested for alleged corrupt practices in court without any delay.

At the same time, he also blamed the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the rot in the judiciary.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana described the detained judges as presumed innocent until the contrary was proven by the state.

The legal practitioner said they should also be admitted to bail in self recognition.

Falana expressed concern that over the years, the NJC paid lip service to the crisis of judicial corruption in the country.

“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 NJC.

“Although the NJC recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting N197 million from a litigant, the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country,’’ he said.

Falana alleged that the NBA had continued to shield corrupt judges 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 anti-graft agencies 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.

“Having failed to take advantage of relevant statutory disciplinary bodies to purge the bar and the bench of corrupt elements, members of the legal profession have themselves to blame for the harassment of judges by security forces.

“It is on account of negligence on the part of the legal profession that the SSS has engaged in the arrest of judges for alleged corruption and abuse of office,’’ Falana said.

The legal practitioner also urged the bar and the bench to strengthen their disciplinary bodies with a view to removing the few corrupt judges and lawyers.

Falana, however, expressed concern that demand of human rights community to the effect that the fundamental rights of lowly placed criminal suspects be respected by security agencies was treated with disdain.

“Judges and other influential citizens have since become victims of institutionalised abuse of official harassment.

“It is high time that all stakeholders demanded that every criminal suspect be treated with dignity in line with the provision of the Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015,” he added.