Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Granville Isetima Abibo has warned that if the recent trend of Sponsorship of conferences and seminars of Judges by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC) is not immediately checked, it would among other things, erode the independence of the judiciary.
Mr. Abibo SAN stated this in a letter to the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), wherein he asked the body to urgently bring this to the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) highest decision making body, NBA-NEC for proper action.
He warned that situation where the EFCC pays judges to attend seminars for which they are sponsored with estacode allowances and top notch accommodation contravenes the oath of office sworn to by these Judges/Justices as enshrined in the 6th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) the code of conduct for public officers as contained in the 5th Schedule to the constitution as well as the code of conduct for judicial officers.
He stated that, the events raise a serious ground for suspicion and loss of confidence by adverse parties in the judiciary as the ability of the Judges to remain unbiased in the face of such sponsorship, financial packages and other perks becomes highly questionable. Such a thing makes the common man and the public to lose faith in the only place that they see and take as their last civil hope in attaining Justice.
He also raised the concern that lawyers are not similarly accorded the opportunity to attend such seminars, meetings and conferences.
He condemned the act which is fast becoming a norm owing also to the fact that some of these Judges are sitting in cases where the EFCC is prosecuting.
According to Courtroom Mail, in the last NEC meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, lawyers have raised their concerns on the subject and the bar has agreed to act accordingly.