The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has commended the National Judicial Council (NJC) over its recent initiative to engage in internal cleansing of that arm of government.
In a Statement made by CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, the group lauded NJC’s creation of seven panels to probe allegations of misconduct, levelled against 25 judges by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
According to Adeniran: “It is therefore a welcome development that the Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen led NJC took the initiative to reduce corruption amongst members of the Bench, and by so doing, pitch its tent with the fight against Corruption by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.”
The CACOL boss recalled that: “Though the National Judicial Council (NJC) was set up to regulate and police the nation’s judicial arm of government by the provisions of Paragraph 20, Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution it seemed to have relaxed in the discharge of its duties over time.”
Adeniran further stated that It is beyond doubt that this laidback attitude of the NJC in the past may have provided the executive with the excuse to encroach on the independence of the judiciary when in 2016 security operatives attached to Directorate of State Service (DSS) illegally invaded the homes of several judges by midnight, purportedly in search of illicit cash obtained through bribery.
According to him: “Although many Nigerians had cried foul and accused the Executive of high-handedness and impunity at the time, claiming that the operations were aimed at intimidating and turning the Judiciary into an apron string of the Executive rather than purging that arm of government of assumed corruption, others had accused some members of the Judiciary of perverting the course of justice by delivering judgment in favour of the highest bidder.”
The CACOL boss further stated that recent positive developments seem to point to the fact that the Judiciary has taken a cue from the executive to embark on an all-out war against graft in Nigeria citing the recent order by an Abuja High Court for the trial of culpable Federal Lawmakers in the 2016 budget padding scandal as another example.