The Citizens of Impact Foundation (CIF) has expressed grave concern on allegations of corruption in the Nigerian judiciary in the wake of last weekend’s arrest of some judges including Supreme Court justices by the Department of State Services (DSS).
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Comrade Daniel Seun Olatunde, the CIF said the mere allegation that the stream of justice may have been polluted by the cancer of corruption was in itself distressing and capable of completely eroding whatever confidence Nigerians have in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
“A corrupt judge is a clear and present danger to society” Comrade Seun Olatunde stated, and continued by quoting the former Chief Justice Muhammed Uwais’ saying that, ‘a corrupt judge is more harmful to the society than a man who runs amok with a dagger in a crowded street’, we must preserve the sanctity of the judiciary by clearing it of the merchants of injustice parading themselves as judges in the hallowed temple”.
“It is sad and deeply worrying that the sacred temple of justice has been turned by some judges into a temple of money changers and a bazaar where judgments are sold to the highest bidder. As the Socrates of the Nigerian judiciary, the late erudite Justice Chukwudifu Oputa had occasion to say, ‘when justice is bought and sold, there is no more hope for society’”, Comrade Seun Olatunde noted.
The CIF expressed support for the fight against corruption reechoing President Buhari’s often-stated aphorism that if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. While urging the security agencies to always conduct their affairs within the ambit of law, the Foundation cautioned against using the principle of separation of powers or the mantra of rule of law as a fig leaf to cover the nakedness of corruption plaguing all facets of our society including the judiciary.
The CIF being an organisation with the primary purpose of promoting the interests of ordinary, nameless and faceless Nigerians also condemned the rush by some persons and interest groups including the president of the NBA to uninformed conclusions about the operation and legality of the DSS action.
It decried as hypocritical and an exposition of the class character of these so-called human rights defenders to rise to the defense of the rich and powerful when the arms of the law reaches out for the elites but are loud in their silence when the poor and unknown are concerned.
“Many poor citizens are arrested daily by law enforcement agencies some of them on trumped-up charges, but being without means to hire pricey lawyers, are hauled into prisons and denied bail, no wonder that a preponderant majority of the inmates of our prisons are awaiting trial.
“Sometimes, some of these poor people are extra-judicially executed as the recent Amnesty International report on Nigeria showed, all these without as much as a whimper from the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and our emergency defenders of human rights. Also recently, many government agencies in flagrant abuse of laid down rules and regulations engaged in under the table employment, only the CIF organised rallies to protest these illegalities forcing government agencies to now publicly advertise vacancies.
“The law must be no respecter of persons, as Lord Denning said, ‘no matter how high you are, the law is higher than you’” Comrade Seun Olatunde posited in his statement.
The CIF admonished the NJC to live up to its constitutional responsibility by punishing severely corrupt judges and stop its present penchant of giving a slap on the wrist to judges found to have abused their offices. “Like Caesar’s wife, our judiciary must be above board at all times, for if the salt loses its taste, with what do we season it”.