Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday blamed legal practitioners in the ongoing fight against corruption in the country, stressing that they allow themselves to be used to truncate trials of corrupt individuals.
Speaking at the public presentation of a book authored by Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN) in Abuja yesterday, the CJN described as unfortunate, that many lawyers have abandoned the basic root of the law and chosen to be used as instruments to request for bribes for or on behalf of corrupt elements.
He also accused lawyers of employing frivolous applications and baseless objections to stall corruption trials. The CJN who wrote the foreword to the book titled, ‘Anatomy of Corruption in Nigeria – Issues, Challenges and Solutions,’ acknowledged that “it is a known fact that like a cancer, corruption has metamorphosed into the fabric of the country and there is an urgent need for a conscious, concerted and coordinated effort to ensure that we do all that is necessary, to rid our dear country of this menace.” He, however, noted that the nation’s public prosecutors are overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of trialthe cases, especially financial crimes.
“In the noble legal profession, corruption is occasioned when our legal practitioners trade the years of sweat spent in attaining membership to the Bar, for the shortcut of being used as a conduit to solicit bribes for or on behalf of corrupt elements either within or outside the courts. “A number of lawyers within the profession no longer uphold the law but in fact devise ways of truncating the conduct of trials and the diligent dispensation of justice, through frivolous applications and baseless objections that owe more to personal, rather than professional considerations.
“Our prosecutors are overwhelmed, seemingly out of their depth in more complex financial crimes and therefore prone to delay. Given these shortcomings and deliberate ills, there is a veritable atmosphere which provides the avenues for corruption to thrive.
“The Nigerian judiciary continues to do its best, given its resources, to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption. In 2013, the leadership of the judiciary introduced Practice Directions to fast-track high level corruption cases, among other crimes considered to be existential threat to the rule of law, order and good governance