Mr Femi Falana, a senior advocate and leading human rights activist needs little or no introduction. In this interview, he proffers solutions to some questions begging for answers on the on-going probe of some Judges for corrupt practices in Nigeria. Among others, he explains why some judges are untouchable and proffers solutions on how to curb the menace of corruption in the country.
Excerpts: By Abdulwahab Abdulah HOW would you describe the unfolding scenario bedevilling the Nigerian Judiciary now? The image of the country’s judiciary is at its lowest ebb. The judiciary has never witnessed such humiliation before. After the condemnation of the barbaric raid on the houses of the judges by the State Security Service goons, the National Judicial Council, (NJC) should proceed to examine the allegations of judicial corruption without any further delay.
Both the bar and the bench have long been united in recognising the dangerous rate of judicial corruption in the country. Regrettably, the authorities in the legal profession have paid lip service to the nagging crisis of judicial corruption for too long. Hence we have allowed the purge to be instigated from the executive. Now the allegation of corruption levelled against some judges is becoming messier as some lately admitted to have been approached for favour by some politicians? What is your take on this? Frankly speaking, I did not know that the judiciary had sunk so low to the extent that supreme court Justices have admitted publicly that the doors of their homes have been flung open to politicians.
One of the embattled jurists even confessed that he visited a serving minister in his house for the purpose of discussing a pending appeal at the apex court. What further evidence of judicial misconduct is the NJC looking for? Can you imagine judges in whose houses millions of naira and thousands of dollars and pounds sterling were recovered coming out to say that they signed and admitted the incriminating items under duress or that the huge sums of money were planted in their homes by the security operatives?
Why did it take over a week to disown the statements signed by them? Are they not aware that they were recorded in line with provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015? When Governor Nyesom Wike visited the office of the Chief Justice at the Supreme Court complex twice when the appeal over his election was pending, did his Lordship not cry out and warn him to desist from the act? Why did both Justices Okoro and Ngwuta not cry out or alert the Police that they had received strange visitors in their homes? Of course, I have called for an investigation of that aspect of the allegation of judicial interference.