By Tope Fayehun, Akure.
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Thursday ,urged members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to expose corrupt judges with a view to stamping out corrupt practices
within the system .
Falana said, the act would reposition the nation’s judicial system and prevent further embarrasment of corrupt judges.
He also called on lawyers “to challenge other obnoxious laws and legal principles which have denied the Nigerian people access to justice.
Speaking in Akure, the Ondo state capital, during annual seminar /workshop organised by Ondo state Judiciary, as part of activities marking the state legal year, Falana said ” lf the NBA is serious or committed to the eradication of judicial corruption, it has the capacity to do so.
In his lecture, titled “Access to Justice: Socio- Cultural and Economic and Geographic limitation, A critique”, the human rights lawyer said, “with 120 branches spread across the country, the NBA can police judges, lawyers and court officials with a view to stamping out corrupt practices.
He said, ” Because the NBA was condemning corruption without adopting any concrete measute to stop it, the security and Anti- graft agencies recently seized the initiative and arrested judges in the dead of the night to the eternal embarasment of the legal profession.
“To prevent any further embarrasment of our judges, the NBA and the NJC ought to adopt an invuilt mechamism for exterminating the menace of corruption from the bar and bench.”
According to him, NBA should not hesitate to expose and isolate corrupt judges across the country.
While pointing out that not all judges are corrupt,Falana said, those that are corrupt should be named, exposed and isolated and not lumped with innocent judges.
His words : “Lawyers know all the corrupt judges and court officials. The information is freely circulated among lawyers. Members of the public also know judges who collect money from them either directly or through lawyers or court clerks.
“I recalled what happened in Ghana where its Bar Association was paying lip service to corruption, and a video recording by a journalist showed where judges were negotiating and collecting bribes was exposed.
“At the end of the recording he exposed, named and shamed the indicted judges. They were promptly investigated by the Ghana judicial council and dismissed from the bench”.
Falana, however, regretted that judges and lawyers have refused to take advantage of the relevant adjectival and procedural laws to prevent the denial of access to justice to disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the society.
He said, ” We need judges who are prepared to insist that their hands cannot be tied by unjust laws to do injustice even if the heavens would fall.
” lt is not sufficient for our judges to quote Lord Denning with relish. Our judges must emulate him by ensuring that the gates of our courts are flung open to citizens with genuine grievances.”