*Says cause of corruption include mode of appointment of judges, influence of election petitions and delay in administration of justice

Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the Lekki tollgate shootings by soldiers, has said that it is too early to say what exactly happened at the toll gate incident.

Adegboruwa, in an interview with the PUNCH newspaper, said the panel is still listening to witnesses, admitting videos and documents amongst others

“I think it is too early now to say exactly what happened at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020. To the extent that the judicial panel is still listening to the testimonies of witnesses, admitting documents, videos and other materials as exhibits, we believe at this stage that our job at the panel is still that of investigation. We will leave no stone unturned in that process. And this is why we have extended our investigations and summonses to hospitals where people who claimed to have been shot or injured were treated, to journalists who claimed to have covered the events, to major security agencies such as the army, the police, etc.” Adegboruwa said

The learned silk assured that the Panel will not succumb to external pressure but will rather say the truth regardless of those concerned.

He added that the Panel will try its best not to disappoint the public, international community and the youths

He said, “So, at this stage, all that I can assure you is that we will not succumb to any pressure to do things this way or that way. We are determined to say it as it is, not just for the #EndSARS petitions but also in other cases and petitions brought before us. We are very mindful of the expectations of the general public, the international community and especially the youth and we will do our best not to disappoint them; the panel will bring out the truth. Whether or not the truth will be acceptable to all concerned, that will be left for posterity to determine.

“I am sure that you too have been following events at the judicial panel through its televised sittings. There is nothing to suggest any cover-up or yielding to pressure from any quarters. We are totally independent. We meet to deliberate on issues as we deem fit and we take decisions without any extraneous considerations. So, I will not be far from the truth if I say that Nigerians and the international community should expect us to do the needful.”

On the recent assertion by the ICPC that Nigerian judges got N9.4bn in bribery from lawyers in the past three years, Adegboruwa said the problem boils down to mode of appointments. Those who lobbied for the position are more likely to be corrupt

He said, “I recently wrote a piece titled Transactional Justice, in which I noted that increasingly and alarmingly, the belief that justice is for sale is gaining ground among Nigerians. Corruption in any society, not just amongst judges, is man-made and it is man himself that can tackle it. For judges, the first issue is the mode of appointment. Once you have to lobby for any appointment, it must carry its own baggage, as he who pays the piper must surely dictate the tune of the music.”

Another reason, according to the learned silk, is the corruptive influence of election petitions on the performance of the judiciary generally.

He said politicians are always desperate to secure victory and because they do everything to get it, the corruption that aid them influences other cases including land and commercial cases

Adegboruwa further attributed cause of corruption to delay in administration of justice. It makes litigants do everything to make sure their cases are being heard.

He said, “Another factor is the corruptive influence of election petitions on the performance of the judiciary generally. It has, more or less, destroyed the judiciary, to the extent that politicians are so desperate that they will do just anything to secure victory over their opponents. And once the door of corruption is opened through election petitions, you cannot close it when it comes to land matters or commercial cases.

“The delay in the administration of justice is also part of the corruption. Once the number of cases pending in the courts far outweigh the capacity of judges available, then this leads to desperation, as litigants have to battle for the spaces available to have their cases heard. If the Supreme Court is presently hearing appeals of 2010, in year 2021, then you can imagine where we are in the administration of justice in Nigeria. So, corruption in the judiciary is caused by so many factors and it is best dealt with holistically.”

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