Legal luminary, Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali SAN was a guest speaker at the 2017/2018 Federal High Court Legal Year Ceremony and Annual Judges Conference held at the Abuja headquarters of the Federal High Court on the 14th of September, 2017 where he presented a paper on the theme: “The Role of the Judiciary in the Fight Against Corruption”
In his opening remarks the learned silk expressed his gratitude to the Hon. Chief Judge for inviting him to exchange ideas on the topic. “I want to express my deep sincere gratitude to the Hon Chief Judge of this Court for inviting me to come and exchange ideas on this very important but controversial topic. My lord I am grateful for this honor of asking me to speak at your last annual conference of this court when you are still in the saddle of chief judge.
The Role of the Judiciary in the Fight Against Corruption HE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY
- One of the easiest ways for the judiciary to fight corruption is for judges to decide cases brought before it in accordance with the law. The courts, given the prevalence of corruption in our land, should in all proven cases impose the maximum allowable sentence upon conviction. Anyone that is found guilty of corruption should not be given a slap on the wrist. In specific terms, the role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption involves the application of the provisions of various laws contained in the ICPC Act, EFCC Act etc the Penal and Criminal Code Laws of the various states of the Federation, to the cases brought before the courts. The court must show their aversion to corruption. In the case of AG Ondo v. AG Federation , the Supreme Court, irked by the endemic nature of corruption in the country, held as follows:
‘Corrupt practices and abuse of power can, if not checked threaten the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof…..
If these were the only consequences of corruption, it would not have been so threatening. The deadly threat is the effect on the economy of the country with the attendant inflation and lack of control on the monetary and fiscal policies of the government……
The court is conscious of the history of corruption in Nigeria and should not be at liberty to construe the ICPC Act or any Act of the National Assembly by the motives which influenced the legislature, yet when the history of the law and legislation tells the court what the policy and object of the legislature were, the court is to see whether the terms of the acts are such as fairly carry out the policy and objective. See Holmes v. Guy (1877) 5 Ch. D 901 at 905, Knowlton v. Moore 178 U.S. 41, 205 Ct. 747 at 768. See also Bronik Motors Ltd. & Or. v. Wema Bank Ltd. (1985) NCLR Vol.6 I, and Re: Anti-Inflation Act (1976) 9 NR 541;
68DLR (Ed.) 452……. The ICPC Acts is an enactment for the peace, order and good government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Any legislation on corruption and abuse of power must be of concern to every Nigerian notwithstanding that its operation will affect property and civil rights for citizens in a State. Such an enactment like all enactment of the National Assembly will be of paramount force. See Munro v National Capital Commission (1966) SCR 663 at 670, 671, 57 DLR (2d.)753 at 758, 759 (Can. SC) and Attorney- General for Ontario v. Attorney-General for the Dominion supra at 366.’
- Judges should promote & encourage their own personal integrity, honesty and transparency. Anyone that lacks the personal quality of integrity, transparency and honesty has no place on the bench and if he is already there, should be shown the way out.
- Members of the Bench must shun unbridled social life. It does not befit the office of a judge to be a socialite. The acceptance of the office of a judge calls for restraint on the social plane. A selfrespecting judge should not be found on the disco floor. Unrestrained social interaction by a judge will be a veritable vehicle for men and women of shady character to and influence the judge in the discharge of his duties.
- The National Judicial Council, The Federal Judicial Service Commission and other State Judicial Service Commissions must be alive to their duties in wielding the big stick against all judicial officers who are found wanting in the discharge of their duties. We must try and avoid any situation where these bodies will be used as scapegoats by any branch of the executive to commit any act of impunity as it happened after the midnight raid on the houses of judges last year. All allegations of unprofessional behavior against any judge must be dealt with openly, transparently and with dispatch.
Read full presentation here: http://www.yusufali.net/articles/role_judiciary_fight_against_correuption_federal_high_court_paper.pdf
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