By KUNLE Olasanmi, Abuja –
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen has warned those who engage in corrupt practices to desist from the act or face the full wrath of the law.
The CJN, while declaring open the 2016/2017 legal year and the swearing-in of new SANs at the Special Court of the Supreme Court in Abuja, advised judges to shun corruption.
Those who were sworn into the rank of senior advocates included a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo and the Alliance for Democracy’s candidate in the last governorship election in Ondo State, and a former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olusola Oke.
He reminded the SANs that their new rank is a privilege and can be withdrawn.
He said, “I must remind you that being a privilege, it can, and shall be withdrawn if abused.
“The privilege you are conferred with today is not intended as a weapon of intimidation or licence for rudeness and arrogance.
“It is an appointment that places both moral and professional duties on you, for which you have been found worthy to bear and discharge.
“As members of the Inner Bar, you now occupy positions of trust and great responsibility.
“Expectedly, you must imbibe every virtue of excellence, integrity, and diligence at all times. You must also remember your duties to the Courts as custodians of justice.”
He also gave marching orders to all Heads of Courts to clamp down on both Prosecution and Defence Counsel who indulge in the unethical practice of deploying delay tactics to stall criminal trials.
“Heads of Courts are to henceforth report cases of unnecessary delays to the National Judicial Council which in turn, would transmit them to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), in the case of SANs, and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), in the case of other legal practitioners.”
He also directed relevant departments to fix special dates solely for hearing and determining appeals like cases that come to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.
“NJC will constitute an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (ACTMC) at its 88th meeting to be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that both Trial and Appellate Courts handling corruption and financial crime cases key into and abide by the renewed efforts at ridding the country of the cankerworm of corruption.
“I encourage members of the public to cut off the supply side of corruption by stopping the offering of bribes to judicial officers. The full wrath of the law will be visited on all those caught in this nefarious activity that is capable of eroding integrity and confidence in the Judiciary,”
On his part, the Attorney General of the Federation, (AGF) Abubakar Malami SAN, assured his continued commitment to a policy of responsible cooperation with the Judiciary during his tenure.
Malami proposes that the Judiciary take a second look at the current system of its annual vacation stating that it amount to practically shuttling down the entire Judicial arm for a long time every year with other public holidays applicable to the Judiciary.
Also speaking, the President of Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmud, SAN, posited that “No group no matter it’s grievance should be allowed to take the law into its own hands or operate in a manner that undermines the sovereignty of the state.
“We condemn in very strong terms activities of IPOB in so far as they go beyond peaceful agitation.
“We also reiterate the right of every Nigerian to live peacefully in any part of the country without molestation,” Mahmud said.