Wed. May 29th, 2024

Ngozi James

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has deplored what it described as the deteriorating state of the Nigerian Judiciary, particularly with regard to the issues of  delivery of justice,  appointment of Judges, among others

The Presidential Committee said it has also watched with alarm the attitude to “corrupt” Judges and Senior Advocates, and hostility to suggestions for improvement in the delivery of justice.

PACAC in a statement on Tuesday, noted that increasingly, children, in-laws and wives of Senior Judges/powerful Governors were being appointed into the judiciary at the expense of other Lawyers.  The Committee insists that all persons applying for appointment into the judiciary should be given a level playing field.

To this end, the Presidential Committee recommended that; All vacancies in the Judiciary both at Federal and State levels should be  advertised; The public should be invited to comment on the fitness of applicants for appointment into the Judiciary; All authors of adverse reports on any such applicant should be invited to give evidence in their report to a special panel;

The NBA Branch of applicants should also be requested to express their opinions on the fitness of applicants from their branch for judicial office; All applicants who clear these hurdles should be given a written examination to determine; their knowledge of Law; (b) their personal principles concerning justice and their philosophy of life.

PACAC father noted the “questionable basis and poor quality of some judgments in recent years,” For instance, the committee highlighted the case decided in 2021 involving the trial of a former governor for money laundering of about N7 billion, in which the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of both the High Court and Court of Appeal on the ground that the Judge who tried the case and read the judgment had been promoted to the Court of Appeal at the time he read the judgment. 

“In doing this, the Court disregarded the judicial fiat given by the President of the Court of Appeal to the Judge to go to the High Court to deliver the judgment,” the Committee stated

The Committee said it has been involved in subtle and private contacts with the Judiciary to table these troubling issues for discussion and resolution, but its efforts have been met with resistance and in some cases open displeasure. 

“In addition to the above, PACAC notes that the Chief Justice of Nigeria as Head of NJC is responsible for the appointment of the bulk of the other members of the NJC.  The same Chief Justice is also the Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission which makes recommendation on appointments, promotions and discipline of Judges, to the NJC. 

“PACAC is of the view that, it is time to unbundle these powers of the Chief Justice of Nigeria amongst several other Judicial Officers, including retired Judicial Officers in order to ensure better outcomes in the Administration of Justice.

“For Nigeria to be an orderly, stable and just society, the Judiciary the Bar and very importantly, the Court Registries must be upright and free of misconduct, corruption and unethical practices,” the Committee stated.

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