The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has said that its recent call for all the judges being investigated over their alleged involvement in acts of corruption should recuse themselves from further judicial functions or proceed on compulsory leave, until their innocence is fully and completely established has been misunderstood by some of their colleagues and members of the public.
In a statement, the NBA noted that there cannot be crisis between NJC and NBA as both bodies are working hard to have a judiciary rooted in confidence and a judiciary that remains the last hope of the common man.
“We need to point this out that the current position of NBA/Body of SANs concerning the fate of judges that were accused of corruption are clearly misunderstood by some of our colleagues.
The statement read:
For the umpteenth time we hereby reiterate the position of NBA for clarity:
(1) NBA supports the fight against corruption in all the sectors of our national life including the judiciary.
(2) NBA will not support any fight that is fought outside the ambit of our laws. In other words the rights of the citizens as entrenched in our constitution especially rights to fair hearing and presumption of innocence of an accused person must be observed and respected.
(3) The NBA condemns unequivocally the recent arrests of some judges in a manner that suggests that we are not in a democracy especially as some of the judges were terrorised, their homes invaded by masked men who were heavily armed at the dead of the night. From the accounts of some of the judges, the legal procedures for search and arrest were not complied with, leaving loopholes perhaps for those arrests and searches to be declared illegal by the court in the course of trial in future.
(4) The judiciary as an institution is on trial by the content of recent happenings and have suffered some level of unwarranted humiliation.
(5) In the light of these and to avoid further denigration and collateral damage to that institution it is advisable that those who have been accused should honourably step aside and clear their names as it will be improper to have a sitting judge arraigned in court for criminal trial.
(6) However if there is any variance of opinion between NJC and NBA that issue will be harmonised this week at a scheduled meeting between the CJN and the NBA. It may well be that the NJC will take the bull by the horn and prescribe necessary punishment commensurate to proved offences after which proper charges can be preferred against those who are culpable. There can’t be crisis between NJC and NBA as both bodies are working hard to have a judiciary rooted in confidence and a judiciary that remains the last hope of the common man.
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