The Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria (FONGON) has threatened to occupy courts presided over by the seven federal judges accused of judicial corruption, if they failed to step down within seven days.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr Wole Badmus, issued the threat at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday after the group’s match to the Supreme Court was truncated by security forces.
Badmus said the group, consisting of 50 non-state actors, had mobilised to express its displeasure at the manner in which the National Judicial Council (NJC) handled the allegations against the accused judges.
“We have a protest letter which we want to submit to the CJ, unfortunately the security arm of the government prevented us from matching down to the Supreme Court.
“Failure of the NJC to stop all the judges under investigation from sitting, we would have no choice than to occupy the courts – the courts that these judges are sitting because, when we are talking of rule of law, you have to obey the rule of law first before we can obey your rule of law.’’
Badmus said the consequences of the continued adjudication of cases by the accused judges could be dire.
He said it was time for them to step aside.
“You cannot be presiding over cases.
“You have been accused of doing certain things; the first thing for you to do is to step aside and let investigation be concluded.
“If you are found clean, you will come back. If you are not found clean, you will be prosecuted.
“So you cannot continue sitting there, perverting the (course of justice).
“From today, we are giving a one-week ultimatum for the judges and justices, who are under investigation to step aside.’’
He called on the NLC, the TUC and other trade unions to join in the battle, adding that judicial corruption is worse than economic corruption.
“Judicial corruption is worse than terrorism, judicial corruption is worse than armed robbery and kidnapping because, with corrupt judiciary, all categories of alleged offenders cannot be made to face justice.
“We need to ask the question: Why the Special Anti Robbery Squad are killing armed robbery suspects on the spot.
‘This is largely because such cases are always frustrated in courts.
“Unreasonable bails are granted these armed robbery suspects and they have to go back to kill, loot and use the proceeds to pay lawyers and judges.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Department of State Security in what it termed “sting operation” raided the houses of five Federal High Court judges and two justices of the Supreme Court, following allegations of corruption.
In his reaction, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, expressed displeasure at the manner in which the operation was carried out.
The CJN and the Chairman of NJC insisted that the council has its internal mechanism to deal with erring judicial officers, saying that the council would resist attempts by external forces to dictate to it.
NAN recalls that NJC on Tuesday unveiled a National Judicial Policy that will regulate the conduct of judicial officers.