Former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, yesterday said corruption in the Nigeria’s judiciary was real, stressing that judges were aiding corruption.
Salami, who stated this at the formal opening ceremony of the 2014 biennial law week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch appealed to judges that indulge in the practice of fixing verdicts to desist.
He said: “The problem of corruption in the judiciary is real and has eaten deep into the system. It must however be noted that it is not every judicial officer that is corrupt and dishonourable. There are some who are clearly identifiable as corrupt but they are protected by the system.
“There are those who lack courage and their intimidity is exploited to pervert the course of justice. We hear constantly that the lack of courage of these ones are exploited by either their colleagues or retired senior judges who practices as consultants in fixing judgements. These consultants take money from litigants to give judges or intimidate judges to pervert justice.
“It is my respectful view that appeal should be made to these retired senior justices to stop the despicable role of bribing or intimidating judges. They should engage themselves in other respectable vocations.”
Continuing, he said: “The judges who lend themselves to this dishonourable practice of receiving money or lending themselves to perverting the course of justice under any guise of not receiving reward, monetary or otherwise, should note that there are other means of checking their excesses.”
He said many judges live in opulence in Nigeria, owning as many as 16 choice cars in addition to having “houses which are talk of the town in their community filled with exotic furniture.”
Salami also said that the nobility of legal profession is fast waning.
“I am emboldened in this affirmation by the recent happenings in Nigeria. In constituting the National Conference, a body to fashion a constitution for Nigeria, only one seat was allocated to the Nigerian Bar Association.”
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) did not protest this shabby treatment until well into the conference and it was properly ignored.
He said the body’s leadership has meekly submitted to political leadership in return for patronage.
Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who declared the ceremony open advocated for independence of the judiciary, saying that the only panacea to growth and development was equity and justice.
He called on Nigerians to have a change of value to make the outcome of the ongoing National Conference meaningful and sustainable, stressing that “Nigeria’s problem is not with the Constitution, but the tendencies to circumvent the law and explore its ambiguities and loopholes for selfish ends.”