NBA Changes Gear, Seeks Suspension of Judges Arrested by DSS
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Thursday shifted grounds from its condemnation of the procedure of arrest of judges by the Department of State Services (DSS) and called for the immediate suspension of seven judges that were taken-in by the DSS over alleged corruption.
The President of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmud, SAN, who made the call at a valedictory court session in honour of a retiring Justice of the Court of Appeal, Sotonye Denton-West, cited the need to safeguard the sanctity of the judiciary.
“In the interim, particularly having regards to what appears to be an ongoing accusations and counter-accusations between some of the judges and other personalities or agencies, it appears to the NBA that it is extremely important that the NJC takes very urgent steps to safeguard the public image and sanctity of the courts.
“We therefore strongly recommend that, without prejudice to the innocence or otherwise of the Judges involved in the ongoing investigations, they should be required to recuse themselves from further judicial functions or required to proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.
“We believe this will be necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of judicial processes that may involve the judges concerned and safeguard the public image of the institution, Mahmud stressed.
Denton-West, in welcoming the call by Mahmud, stated: “Indeed, I know and believe that there is corruption, unfortunately, even in the folds of the judiciary. I have personally been a victim of corrupt act from the judiciary on some occasions.
“The Nigerian judiciary in the past has been one of the greatest in the world, but it is time to relive and embrace the rule of law in its entirety. It seems only lip service is paid to this great doctrine. It is essential that the rule of law must be observed in order for society to run smoothly, otherwise the beauty of democracy will elude us.
“The rule of law is observed when there is mutual respect between the authorities and those subject to authority and, between the powers that be and their subjects, in accordance with the law. For we are all subject to the law,” she added.