In the past week, the arrest of suspected Judges by the Department of State Security, DSS has attracted views and counterviews of varying interests in the country. The heat on the suspected corrupt Judges is apparently being kept on as reports reaching the media suggest that the DSS will continue the crackdown on suspected corrupt Judges in the country.
According to the reports, the DSS is set to arrest three Supreme Court justices suspected of corrupt practices. This would bring the total number of judges in the apex court under investigations to five. Last week, Justices John Okoro and Sylvester Ngwatu were apprehended by the DSS in what it termed a ‘sting operation’ which has put the Service under criticisms. The justices were reported to have admitted to some corruption charges but for some people the subject of concern is the ‘stingness’ of the operation.
The National Judicial Council (NJC), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and other relevant legal bodies and institutions have all been critical about the arrest of corruption judges by the DSS.
But we, in the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, believes where criminal charges are involved a case like with the suspected judges, it becomes beyond the NJC because its powers are only administrative as provided for in the constitution. The NJC cannot therefore exercise total control in the discipline of corrupt judges, particularly when criminal charges are involved.
The NJC can dish out whatever punishment it likes to erring judges as a judicial body at certain levels, but the crimes allegedly perpetrated by the arrested judges were not administrative or acts of judicial misconducts, neither were they crimes against the NJC or any judicial body but crimes against the Nigerian people, country and state.
If we are to go by the logic of that the NJC could have handled these heinous crimes, we can as well argue that students that engage in crimes can also be punished by their school management rather than having them arrested by the security agencies and then punished by the law!
We call on Nigerians who have reservations on court decisions and suspicions of foul play by legal practitioners and judges not hesitate to submit their petitions to the anti-graft agencies as the war against corruption requires all hands on deck and also necessitate a thorough cleansing of the judiciary because of its importance to nation-building.
That is how to keep the heat on, on the plunderers of our commonwealth; we must collectively make the ‘kitchen hot’ to stave away cockroaches, rats and mosquitoes! Those pandering to corruption via this episode should reflect deeply with circumspection beyond political, ethnic, religious and other sundry sentiments. They should realize that the ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’ they are utilizing to shield thieves were achieved on the altar of struggle with Nigerians contributing their blood, sweat and self-comfort, and with several extraordinary steps within the process. This episode itself has revealed that another dangerous malady have encroached the psyche of some folks, such that supposed intellectuals have shamelessly suddenly forgotten the place of dialectic in societal development!
On the three Supreme Court justices suspected of corrupt practices for instance, media reports have it that the DSS has concrete evidences of the involvement of the justices in corruption practices. They were alleged to have jointly shared in bribe over a case. The DSS have recorded voices and videos of the justices and some of their fronts and relations that have been quizzed have made useful statements. The Service went ahead to insist that its agents did not just arrest some judges adding that it was the last leg of the investigative procedure.
The Service also insisted that it had petitions against the arrested judges and had been investigating them for over seven months! This is why it is important for aggrieved Nigerians to take advantage of the increasing momentum of the anti-corruption drive by bringing their complaints to the notice of the various security agencies via petitions. This is how we can help the anti-corruption drive rather denigrate it on the altar of selfish interests.
The hitherto kids’ glove attitude toward corruption must be discarded with. It is the sustaining of this attitude that breeds bare-face impunity, it gives room for corruption suspects to delay justice unduly or out rightly manipulate it perpetually in their favour in spite of plausible evidences.
This is why Mr. Godswin Orubebe who was recently convicted for false assets declaration can have the effrontery to proceed to the Appeal court seeking for ‘shelter’, because he knows that with the extant Nigerian judicial system, ‘camels can pass through the eye of the needle’! He knows he can always manipulate the system either to delay justice or to escape it.
We implore the Federal government not allow Orubebe’s tricks to dampen its zeal. The FG must ensure that the appeal is treated in an expedited way and with diligence in the prosecution of the case. It is time to speed up the momentum of the ‘wheels of progress’ of justice in the overall interest of national development. It is time to remake Nigeria and extricate all maladies imposed on us as a people by the incurably corrupt amongst us.
Executive Chairman, CACOL
October 13, 2016