Scores of protesters on Wednesday, stormed the premises of Federal High Court, Ikeja, Lagos, to demand that all the judges so far indicted or arrested for corruption by the operatives of Directorate of State Security (DSS) immediately resign their positions considering the magnitude of the case that the Agency has built against them.
The protesters, who came under the aegis of Human Rights and Anti- Corruption Coalition (HRACC) and led by its Lagos Coordinator, Desmond abiona, while displaying placards with various inscriptions written on them, also demanded that the cases of those judges that had been given lenient punishments by the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be revisited with a view to dragging them before a law court.
This is just as they also tasked the DSS to widen its investigations to take in all the petitions that the NJC had ever discarded given the fact that the council had demonstrated amply that it tended to shield corrupt judges in the country.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, coordinator of the group, who was accompanied by Comrade Akintunde Sankara of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), while condemning level of corruption in the judiciary, said the arrested judges should be charged to court within the shortest time possible in order that they don’t begin to claim that their rights were violated.
“The arrested judges should be charged to court within the shortest time possible so that they cannot claim their rights were violated.
“We want to clearly warn the judges that would be handling the trial of these arrested men that Nigerians would be watching closely and this is no time to play fraternal games. In addition to accepting bribes and being corrupt, there is also something called conflict of interest and Nigerians will be watching,” abiona said.
The HRACC coordination, while noting that the arrest of seven judge of various courts exposed how bad the cancer of corruption had spread in the country’s polity, saying, “We mourn not just because these judicial officers have been fooling us, we mourn because they were still able to get gullible citizens that are fighting for them by condemning the sequence of events and the process of their arrests.”
He lamented that some people could still be criticising the arrests of the judges of corruption which was executed with valid warrants of arrest, describing such attitude as simply inconceivable.
“Suddenly, arrests that were executed with valid warrants are being criticized by the same people who have been shortchanged by rogue judges all their lives. It is simply inconceivable.
“In the coming days, we are aware that these corrupt judges have commissioned agents to recruit youths to hold protests at which their covert spokespersons will lay the allegation of witch-hunt. We, however, want to clearly set out here that arrest of judges, or anyone found to have been corrupt is not with-hunt, it is not politics and definitely it is not clamping down on freedoms.
“Anyone that they contact to be part of protests either on the streets or in the virtual cyberspace would do well to identify and appreciate the issues:
In the number of years that we have returned to democratic rule, corrupt judges have been steadily eroding the gains of democracy. They have in some instances sold judgment to the highest bidders such that vote no longer count and millions of people are saddled with representatives and leaders they did not actually vote for.
“The men and women who threatened our democratic freedom with their avarice have no right walking free when indicted, they should face the law they profess and bear their punishments if convicted.
“The Nigeria Police Force can tell of their frustration in the hands of corrupt judges who turn psychopathic robbers loose on our streets for money. Every family that has ever lost a loved one to the hails of bullets fired by judge-pampered robbers would attest to the fact that a corrupt judge is worse than a robber in that he wields a more deadly weapon as the scales of justices is superior to firearms,” Abiona said.