Falana Asks AGF To Release Detained Judges On Bail, Charge Them To Court



Human Rights Lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Barrister Femi Falana has called on the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation , Mr Abubakar Malami, to ensure that the suspected judges arrested by the State Security Service(SSS)  are  not only released on bail but that they also arraigned in court without any further delay.

Falana stated this in a statement he made available to journalists in Lagos.

The Human Rights Lawyer said that 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, adding that 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 (NJC).

He stated although the National Judicial Council(NJC) recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting the sum of N197 million from a litigant the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country.

The former President West Africa Bar Association (WABA) pointed out that the Nigerian Bar Association which has information on all corrupt judges and lawyers in the country have continued to shield them to the embarrassment of incorruptible members of the bar and the bench, adding that 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.

He stated that it was on record that when both the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission(ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) 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.

To buttress his point, he said that about two years ago, an anti graft agency found N2 billion in the account of a high court judge and that as soon as the judge was invited for questioning she reported and made a statement and was granted bail but that but as she could not defend the lodgement in her bank account she obtained an interlocutory injunction from one of the judges in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).

According to him, “It is common knowledge that two Senior Advocates of Nigeria are standing trial in the Lagos high court for allegedly bribing a judge. Even though it takes two to tangle the judge has not been charged to court for allegedly receiving bribe. “

Falana said that the judiciary should blame itself for what is presently happening since it failed to take advantage of the relevant statutory disciplinary bodies to purge the bar and the bench of corrupt elements the members of the legal profession.

According to him,  “Having failed to take advantage of the  relevant statutory disciplinary bodies to purge the bar and the bench of corrupt elements the members of the legal profession have themselves to blame for the harassment of judges by security forces. 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. To avoid any further embarrassment in the circumstances, the bar and the bench should immediately strengthen their disciplinary bodies with a view to removing the few corrupt judges and lawyers whose criminal activities have continued to erode public confidence in the judiciary. “

The human rights crusader argued that it is painful to note that, before now, the demand of the human rights community to the effect that the fundamental rights of lowly placed criminal suspects be respected by the Police and other security agencies has been treated with disdain but that having regard to the fact that judges and other influential citizens have since become victims of institutionalised abuse of official harassment,

He added that it is high time that all stakeholders demanded that every criminal suspect be treated with dignity in line with the provision of the Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Recalled that the SSS raided the official quarters of judges at Abuja, Gombe, Kano and Port Harcourt last Friday night.

During the raid, the homes of the judges were searched while some of them were arrested and taken away.

They have since been detained by the SSS.


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