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Corrupt Judiciary: Falana Threatens to Withdraw NBA Membership

By Ignatius Okpara

ENUGU NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Lagos based Human Rights activist and Constitutional Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has threatened to withdraw his Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) membership due to the corruption spree within the Leadership hierarchy of the body.

Mr. Falana said the national election of the association had become more expensive than a state gubernatorial election where candidates spend as much as N700 million to run for the presidency.

While speaking Monday in Enugu as a guest speaker at the opening of the Law Week of the State’s branch of the NBA with the theme “Corruption and the Justice Sector: Implications for the Rule of Law and Democracy” the Constitutional Lawyer urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) and NBA to as a matter of urgency save the integrity of the judiciary by identifying and exposing corrupt judges and lawyers in the country.

According to him, the corruption in the Nigerian judiciary had become so alarming that “these days, no matter how bad your case may be, its outcome is determined by the size of your pocket”.

He said invading the homes of criminal suspects at night was completely out of order “whatever the offences may be”.

The senior Lawyer stated that the situation was becoming worrisome, especially when the houses of senior military, police and officers of other law enforcement agencies accused of corruption have not been so invaded, adding that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, should be vicariously held liable for the consequences of such raids, having accepted that he was the one that authorised the raids on the homes of judges by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

His words: “The government should better watch it because I recalled that sometime during the military junta, myself, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Gani Fawehinmi were severally harassed by state agents for projecting human rights views.

“I later discovered that it was not actually Babangida that ordered such harassment but they were executed by those behind the Okar Coup who wanted the Human Rights community to have disdain and hatred for the Babangida administration, so that when they topple him, our support would be enlisted.

“I want to warn that criminal elements may soon wear masks, invade the homes of judges, kidnap some and possibly kill some and the blame will be on the government.

“If they don’t stop, I am also asking judges never to open their gates at night, if they come calling, call them thieves and they will run away,”.

He however blamed the “ongoing embarrassment of our judges” on some senior lawyers who he accused of refusing to do the needful by exposing and shaming the few judges that are bent on dragging the integrity of the judiciary in the mud, insisting “there is no corrupt judge that is not known to the lawyers”.

“Because of the actions of few corrupt judges, the institution is been denigrated, we still have judges who are working in the most difficult conditions and have refused to be tainted.

“NBA should speak out and protect the good judges, a few judges, a few senior advocates, a few lawyers are corrupt.

“We should isolate them, name them and shame them, allegations remain allegations, we have to stop at just pointing accusing fingers but go the extra-miles of carrying out thorough investigations so as to unveil these bad eggs.

“Judges should also be mindful of the companies of lawyers they keep because these set of lawyers who are bent on destroying the system will put you in trouble.

“They have made the price to be high now, our hardworking lawyers are now in trouble because the corrupt ones are beginning to dictate the pace.

“Our courts have become super markets where only the rich do their shopping,” Falana stated.

He also attributed some of the conflicting judgements coming from Federal High Courts especially in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt to the corrupt activities that have enveloped the judiciary, lamenting that the situation might degenerate if nothing was urgently done to arrest the ugly situation.

The event was attended by hundreds of lawyers across Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria.

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