Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has lashed out at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for shielding corrupt judges following the raid by the Department of State Service (DSS). The DSS raid on allegedly corrupt politicians in the early hours of Saturday, October 8 although this has been highly criticised by some Nigerians.
The Peoples Democratic Party also criticised President Muhammadu Buhari who the party described as a dictator. The Punch however reports that Falana condemned the call by the NBA for an unditional release of the judges.
He said: “In particular, the Nigerian Bar Association which has information on all corrupt judges and lawyers in the country has continued to shield them to the embarrassment of incorruptible members of the bar and the bench.
“The few lawyers who have plucked up the courage to expose corrupt judges and lawyers have been stigmatised and treated like lepers by their colleagues. “It is on record that when both the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sent invitation letters to judges suspected of corruption they had rushed to the Federal High Court to obtain interlocutory injunctions to prevent their arrest, investigation and prosecution.”
He blamed members of the profession for the harassment which he said would have been avoided if the provision of the law had been followed in dealing with corrupt judges. “It is on account of negligence on the part of the legal profession that the SSS which screens candidates before they are recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges has now engaged in the arrest of judges for alleged corruption and abuse of office.” He however said the arrested judges “are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State, they should be admitted to bail in self recognisance.” “It is a matter of grave concern that the legal profession has allowed the denigration of the hallowed temple of justice because of the misconduct of a few corrupt judges.
“For several years, judges who committed grave criminal offences were not prosecuted but merely retired by the authorities on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. “Although the National Judicial Council recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting the sum of N197m from a litigant the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country.”