HomeNewsClark to CJN Ariwoola: Tackle corruption, malpractices in judiciary

Clark to CJN Ariwoola: Tackle corruption, malpractices in judiciary

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South-South leader, Edwin Clark has asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola to as a matter of urgency, carry out a holistic reform of the judiciary, saying that alleged corruption, malpractices and naked abuse of the office can no longer be tolerated.

In an open letter to the CJN made available to newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja, Clark, who noted that what was going on in the judiciary has become a big dent on the image of the noble profession, said that Ariwoola has every authority to reorganise the judiciary like Justice Dahiru Musdapher did in 2011, when he appointed a high powered committee under the headship of Justice Mohammad Uwais, former CJN to carry out reforms in the judiciary and address the challenges which include the restructuring and repositioning of the National Judicial Commission, NJC, Judicial Services Commission, amongst others.

According to the elder statesman, the CJN should investigate the activities of some judicial and non-judicial officers of various courts involved in alleged corrupt practices and even some of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, handling some cases, who helped perpetrate these evil after collecting huge professional fees.

He said that necessary laws and rules of procedure involving all corruption cases in the country should be amended, so as to shift the burden of proof to the accused or corrupt officers for him to prove how he acquired his wealth or assets and not the prosecution.

According to him, he decided to speak up because unfortunately, those in his category and those he sometimes say have already collected their boarding passes and have seen the country evolve through thick and thin were not willing or prepared to talk about issues.

Clark said: “It has also been reported in the news media that the current CJN appears disinterested even when there is the report with which he can institute the reform. I gathered from the media that Your Lordship dislike public opinion and demonstration by civil right organisations, and that other respected public opinions should not influence the judges in their deliberation, which is contradictory to the views held by the former CJN, Justice Musdapher.

“This is the main reason I have decided to write this open letter to Your Lordship because I believe and am confident that Your Lordship can do it as it was done by your former predecessor in office.

“I have the honour to be your most obedient Minister of the Temple of Justice.”

“My Lord, I hope my letter will not come to you as a surprise but if it does, I sincerely apologise for any inconveniences and embarrassment it may cause you.

“Even though I am 96, and as I always said, I have collected my boarding pass waiting for the Almighty God to call me home. But in my usual character as a senior citizen of our great country, hence, I have decided to address this letter to you.

“I am an old member of the Bar for about 59 years now, most of which I devoted serving the nation in various capacities.

“As a result of recently painful event in the judiciary and in the bar, I am compelled to write this second open letter to your Lordship in my usual character to sound a note of warning to the judiciary and the Bar.

“The humiliation and inhumane treatment meted to the former CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, remains a black spot on the judiciary and the Nigerian Bar. A public boycott of the courts by NBA which would have been total was ineffectively done by a few lawyers for few days. The President of the NBA at the time, Mr. Paul Usoro, was confronted by me at the time for not speaking out on behalf of the NBA.

“He was either afraid of the outcome of the consequences of the criminal charges he was facing in the Federal High Court at the time, and many of us lost interest in the NBA that time. Indeed, I believe that it was a conspiracy between the former Federal Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Presidency because they did not want Justice Onoghen to be responsible for the nomination of Judges for the various Tribunals that will be set up after the 2019 Presidential election, whereby an exparte motion was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN, at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.

“Thereafter, Justice Onoghen was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari, and nominated Justice Tanko Muhammed to act as CJN without the involvement of the NJC. Justice Muhammed immediately nominated and screened several Judges of the High Courts as proposed members of the Judicial Tribunals to try all the cases after the Presidential election. Unfortunately, the NJC did not challenge the action of Mr. President, why Justice Onoghen, was shamelessly humiliated out of the service. Still agitating in my mind is whether under the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President can alone suspend a Chief Justice of Nigeria or he can appoint an acting CJN without the participation of NJC. Is it constitutional?

“On concern is the socialisation between the judiciary and some Senators, who are facing criminal charges in their courts. One of the easiest way that the judges could be influenced when some of these Senators facing trials in the court freely meet with the CJN and other judges at parties, occasions or at government functions and other public gatherings.

“Also is embarrassing, conflicting and contradicting judgment by the same court sitting in various states in the country have now become the order of the day which have now extended to the Court of Appeal.”

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