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Tuesday 3 October 2017

Presidency, lawyers hail NJC over judges’ probe

 Presidency, lawyers hail NJC over judges’ probe

Chief Okoi Obono-Obla

The Presidency and some lawyers have lauded the National Judicial Council (NJC) for raising probe panel to investigate corruption allegations against two Chief Justices and 13 judges.

They also commended the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, for the renewed fight against corruption.

READ ALSO :  NJC sets up panel to probe two Chief Judges, 13 others

Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla in a chat with New Telegraph in Abuja, said that the Presidency is happy with the CJN and the NJC for the steps taken so far in the anti-corruption fight.

Obla said: “I commend the NJC and the CJN. This is a kind of synergy, collaboration, partnership we are expecting because the judiciary is a branch of government, just like the legislature. All of us belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

If the executive says we want to fight corruption, then the judiciary should partner with the executive branch of government.

“It will help the judiciary, legislature, the executive and the people of Nigeria, so that Nigeria will begin to prosper, have a new lease of life.

“When the judiciary is working, nobody will resort to self-help, everybody will have confidence in the judiciary.

“I urge the panel to ensure that justice is done. Whoever is found guilty should be shown the way out of the bench.

“The President, in his Independent Day Speech, commended the judiciary and the CJN for setting up Special Courts for corruption. We are happy, we are glad because, we are getting to the Promised Land,” he stated.

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Also, some senior lawyers have lauded the National Judicial Council (NJC) for raising probe panel to investigate corruption allegations against 15 judges.

Reacting to the development, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Mr. Monday Ubani, in separate interviews with New Telegraph, said the NJC’s action is an indication that corruption will not be condoned in the judiciary.

Ahamba noted that by setting up the panel, the NJC has acted within its mandate.
He said: “The NJC is empowered to set up panel to investigate judges accused of corruption. The setting up of this panel to probe these judges is a welcome development and it should send signals that corruption will not be tolerated in the Nigeria judiciary.

“As long as the facts of the complaints are ones that require to be looked into and not just about unsubstantiated allegations, it should be investigated. There should be nothing wrong with that. The NJC has powers to investigate or put its judges on trial where there are allegations against such judges.”

Quakers (SAN) said that setting up of probe panel is not new to the third arm of government, saying that is the essence of NJC’s existence.

“The fight against corruption is not something that started now and that’s the essence of the creation of NJC. It is to discipline erring judges. If you recollect, there was a time that two Justices of the Court of Appeal were dismissed over corruption allegations. So, in essence, it’s nothing new.

“Often times, when it comes to the fore, it’s usually at the instance of the incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who is the occupant of that office at that point in time. So, I think the action of the NJC in setting up another panel to probe corruption allegations against judges is a welcome development,” the silk said.

In his submission, Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ubani, lauded the action of the NJC, describing it as a good and healthy development.

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He said: “I think it is a very good and healthy development. It then means that there is a well-coordinated intention now on the part of the judiciary to rid itself of any allegation of corruption. I believe that is the way to go if we must sustain this fight against corruption.

“I also know that the moment the judiciary catches in on this fight and believe in it, then, we are on the verge of getting Nigeria out of corruption.

Even in the handling of corruption cases, if the judges handling such cases believed that the country must be rid of corruption and they are ready to deal with anyone involved in the menace, 90 per cent of ridding Nigeria of corruption would have started.

I want to say that the larger part of the tasks of getting the country out of corruption lies with the judiciary.”

An Abuja-based lawyer, Chief Isaac Kwamghbe, said that it was a good step taken by the CJN.

“It shows that Justice Onnoghen is a man of his words. The probe of 15 judges is the highest in the history of our nation’s judiciary.

“I am sure that by now, the executive will have a change of mind about the judiciary and at the same time, those corrupt judges on the bench will come down,” he stated.

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