DSS Raids may split NBA Leadership

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There is a strong indication that the current move by the Federal Government  to fish out and prosecute suspected corrupt judges may split the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA),  into two camps.

It was gathered that members of the NBA who are in support of the raid on the homes of suspected judges were more than those who opposed the action of the Department of State Security Service, DSS. Sources revealed that most of the lawyers backing the government action claimed that they had suffered monumental financial and legal losses as a result of the actions of unnamed senior lawyers, who act as ‘consultants’ to some corrupt judges.

“Look, we are the people who spend the nights to prepare our cases so as to win but the corrupt members of the Bar always carry money to some judges to buy judgement. “This unholy practice has made most of the brilliant lawyers to be losing simple cases to some of our senior colleagues who carry money about in search of pliable judges,” a leading legal practitioner said.

According to the sources, 90 percent of lawyers in Nigeria, who believe that they have what it takes to win cases on merit but frustrated by top-ranking lawyers who act as ‘consultants’ to corrupt judges, are ready to revolt against the NBA leadership should it pitch its tent with the National Judicial Council to work against the trial of the suspected judges.

A leading member of the NBA, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said last night that close to 90 percent of lawyers in Nigeria were in support of the actions being taken by the government against senior judges in the country. The legal practitioner, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said that the NBA would be split if it goes ahead to threaten any action in support of the suspected corrupt judges. “Go and mark my words today that the NBA will be split into two groups if its leadership makes any mistake to oppose the actions being taken by the DSS to break the cycle of deeply rooted corruption in the judiciary.

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“I think that the NBA has seen that the majority of the members are silently jubilating over the arrest and detention of those judges suspected to have been engaged in corrupt practices,” the lawyer said. Meanwhile, a senior lawyer has said that there was nothing wrong with the arrest and investigation of any judicial officer suspected to have committed criminal acts. The Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr. Benbelle Anachebe, SAN, said that no judge or lawyer was immune to criminal investigation and prosecution.

“There is nothing wrong with the invitation and interrogation of two judges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Benbelle Anachebe, has said. Anachebe said that since the allegations against the judges bordered on criminal issues of bribery and corruption, the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies have the right to invite and question them instead of the National Judicial Council, which has the power to deal with administrative and disciplinary matters relating to judges. He said: “Of course, there is nothing wrong for the EFCC to summon the judges for interrogation once the issues at stake is beyond administrative and disciplinary matters.

“Just like a lawyer who commits a criminal offence should be handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution instead of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, so also should a judge accused of criminal offence should be subjected to questioning by the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies,” Anachebe said.

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