THE Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Monday, said senior lawyers in the country know corrupt judges, in view of their unguarded utterances, accusing the judiciary of corruption.
Speaking during a special session of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2015/2016 legal year and swearing-in of newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Justice Mohammed urged senior lawyers to fish out the identity of the corrupt judges, so that they can be properly dealt with by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“I regard as unfortunate, unguarded comments of some prominent members of the Bar, that the Judiciary is corrupt. Such comments coming from the members of the Bar means that they know the identity of the corrupt judges and as such, they should fish them out to be dealt with by the NJC,” Justice Mohammed stated.
He reiterated that for the country to truly expect a steadfast, impartial and noble institution, the Judiciary must be truly independent, adding that the Supreme Court was currently working towards the introduction of court automation, so as to address issues of delay, corruption and inefficiency in our judicial system.
Commenting on calls for the abolition of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria by some Legal Practitioners, the CJN said the conferment of the rank of SAN was a privilege conferred in accordance with section 5 (1) of the Legal Practitioners Act by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee, adding that “it is, indeed, a statutorily recognised privilege.
“As much as I will concede that the system of conferment may require reforms, its abolition will be tantamount to proverbially throwing away the baby with the bath water. In any event, none of us here can decisively abolish the rank,” he said.
The CJN, however, said, it was only the National Assembly that can abolish it via a bill of both chambers and urged legal practitioners to close ranks and seek constructive solutions to the challenges confronting the legal profession.
On his part, the president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh (SAN) condemned the face-off between the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Federal High Court in Abuja over the 13 count charge preferred against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, saying it was an unnecessary distraction.
The NBA boss said “the constitutional hierarchy of our courts is well settled and we urge all to respect it. This is not good for our judiciary. Let wise counsel prevail.”