NJC Bars Judges Under Probe From Sitting

Judges, NJC, NBA, investigationThe National Judicial Council (NJC) has barred judges who are under investigation for various offences from sitting until the cases against them are concluded.

This is according to a statement signed by its Acting Director, Information, Mr. Soji Oye, on Thursday.

The Council explained in the statement “that Judicial Officers shall not be standing trial for alleged corruption related offences and be performing judicial functions at the same time”.

The decision, taken at its 79th meeting, appears to be a U-turn from its earlier position on the alleged corruption case against the judges.

Some of the judges are those arrested few weeks ago by operatives of the DSS over allegation of corruption and misconduct.

The NJC had resisted the call for the affected judges to be suspended, saying “that position breaches the 2014 revised judicial discipline regulations formulated by NJC pursuant to section 160 of the 1999 constitution”.

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was one of the major groups demanding that the judges under investigation should proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.

But the NJC insisted that it shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person while exercising its disciplinary power of control over judicial officers in the federation.

In addition to its latest decision, the NJC has also set up what it called a Transparency and Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation Committee.

This is based on Section 6 of the National Judicial Policy, which “aims at putting in place multifaceted strategies and guidelines that will ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the Judiciary.

“It seeks, amongst other measures, to provide a platform and opportunity to citizens who profess factual and credible knowledge of information on the nature and modalities of corruption in the judicial system to ventilate such.”

The committee has as its chairman, Justice E. O. Ayoola, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court.

Members are the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, and the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, A. B. Mahmoud, SAN.

800 Herdsmen Now In Custody Over Violent Attacks – Osinbajo

800 Herdsmen Now In Custody Over Violent Attacks – OsinbajoSecurity agencies in Nigeria have arrested about 800 suspected violent herdsmen across the country, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Prof. Osinbajo made this disclosure in Houston, Texas in the US on Friday at a Townhall event where he interacted with US-based Nigerians who asked questions live at the event and also via the internet,

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Laolu Akande in Houston, the Vice President fielded about 30 questions at the well-attended townhall event moderated by Mr. Rudolf Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters and Prof. Nimi Wariboko of Boston University.

Asked about the issue of Fulani herdsmen attacks in certain states across the country and what the Federal Government was doing to curb the problem, the Vice President said: “The President has given firm instructions to the security agencies to arrest not only herdsmen who are attacking communities anywhere in the country but anyone of them or anyone at all in possession of firearms.”

He added that “there are about 800 of suspected violent herdsmen in the country that are currently in custody.”

The Vice President however decried the slow pace of the criminal justice system which is affecting the prompt trial of such suspects.

Prof. Osinbajo reminded the audience however that the issue of killings by such violent herdsmen has been a perennial issue especially as grazing lands continue to disappear over the years and the cattle feed on people’s crops on the farmlands. He clarified that the matter just did not crop up when President Buhari assumed office.

Vice President Osinbajo then advised the audience against the tendency of interpreting the herdsmen issue as a religious issue, stressing that it is important for all Nigerians to refuse such divisive narratives and tendencies.

He reminded his audience that there has always been conflict between herdsmen and communities across the country and that people should disabuse the notion that the problem has just started because President Buhari, a Fulani is currently at the helm of affairs in the country.

Community Policing

Answering question on the need for community policing, the Vice President indicated that community policing via State Police is indeed a cardinal programme of the ruling APC. However the party agenda cannot be introduced until there is an amendment to the nation’s constitution.

He gave a scenario where a policeman from Bayelsa State for instance is working in Borno State where he cannot even speak the language or understand the culture of the people he is policing, noting that such is counterproductive.

The current situation where Police activities is controlled at the federal level sure has some limitations, he conceded, adding that the “the federal government is currently working to introduce community policing that would be in line with the constitution”.

Judges’ Arrest

Commenting on the recent arrest of judges in the country, Prof. Osinbajo told his Nigerian audience in Texas that impunity could be very dangerous in any sector and that the federal government is only exercising its executive function in attempting to check excesses.

He pointed out that the important thing is that due process is being followed as the judges were released about 24 hours after their arrest and once they had given their statements.

The Vice President also responded to a question on the state of the nation’s economy and attributed the current recession to the loss of about 60% of government revenue due to pipeline vandalism and endemic corruption in the system.

He, however, stated that getting back oil production is a sure way to get out of the recession and the federal government is working to sort it out.

Anti-Corruption

Answering question from the internet on when former President Goodluck Jonathan would be arrested, Osinbajo pointed out that the Buhari administration is not in the business of arresting just anyone anyhow.

He said all the Buhari administration does is to empower the security agencies and the anti-corruption agencies to do their jobs, without the administration trying to teleguide them.

He also added that the fight against corruption in the country is not fought on ethnic, hasty or premediated grounds.

According to him, “corruption is not an ethnic thing, there is an equal representation in the stealing as no one operates with his/her ethnic group alone, the culprits are in every case seen so far, united by greed to steal and not by ethnic or religious interest.”

He frowned at a situation where for instance as much as $15 billion has disappeared from the national coffers into private pockets, pointing out that no responsible government would wave that aside so as not to offend people.

Commenting on the declining fortunes of Nigeria in international sporting competitions occasioned by poor funding by the government, the Vice President said that a long-term solution to inadequate funding of sports is private sector involvement.

According to him, looking around countries that have excelled in international sporting competitions, the private sector in those countries are directly involved and that is exactly what should happen in Nigeria.

By the time companies and organizations take up sports sponsorship, he believes that the tide would change for good.

Nigerians from all walks of life in Houston, Texas and from other parts of the US attended the town hall meeting which was preceded by a Nigeria Infrastructure summit which showcased opportunities for foreign investors in Nigeria.

 

Arrested Judges Should Prove Their Innocence – Issa Aremu

Issa Aremu, Judges' ArrestA former Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has thrown his weight behind the recent arrests of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).

He described the arrests as a sign of crisis of confidence on the image of the judicial officers.

In a chat with Channels Television in Kaduna on Thursday, Mr Aremu faulted those condemning the invasion and arrest of the judges.

He challenged those criticizing the DSS action, to also look at the merit of the corruption allegations leveled against the senior judicial officers, rather than focusing more on the method by which they were arrested.

According to him, by the actions of some corrupt judicial officers across the country over the years are largely responsible for the nation’s socio-economic and political challenges.

The Labour leader also called on the affected judges to step aside for trial as it is being done in other countries of the world.

He stressed that they have a moral burden to establish their innocence before members of the general public.

He also advocated the strengthening of disciplinary mechanism to enhance transparency in judicial service.

Lawyer Urges NJC To “Up Its Game” In Implementing Policies

lawyer, NJC, JudgesLawyer and Policy analyst, Isaac Anumudu has asked the judiciary to “up its game” in the implementation of delicate policies.

This follows the twist in the events taking place in the judiciary, as legal practitioners have been commenting on the new controversial National Judicial Policy.

The policy which states that when a petition is raised against a judicial officer and taken up to the level of the NJC, it should not be leaked to the press by the petitioner otherwise the institution would discontinue the investigation, appears not to go down well with many.

Although he admitted that there are corrupt judges, he said some of the petitions are not always meritorious. He says some are born out of frustrations.

“When someone loses a case, he naturally feels aggrieved and is likely to accuse the judge of bribery even when none of such may have happened,” he stated.

Explaining further, he said if the petition as unmeritorious as it may be, is first leaked to the press and the judge is being tried in the public domain, where the facts are not there to be verified, the judge is not being heard at all as it is understood that only lawyers speak on their behalf.

He says as a result, the judiciary is sometimes brought under severe threat which appears to be the motive for the directive and therefore advised the institution to be more vigilante and also strike a balance.

This according to him is so that it does not appear as though the NJC intends to gag the media or deprive citizens of their fundamental rights.

He added that with the Freedom Of Information/Expression Act, Nigerians have become very sensitive of any directive or policy that appears to gag the press.

He urged that things ought to be done transparently and openly because “we are in a democracy”

On the other hand, he supported the rule by the NJC, saying that it is in order to protect the institution of the judiciary while also praising the CJN.

“We are not dealing here with individual judges, but the whole judiciary.

Hence if you allow situations that people can just run down the institution at will, this would result in a problem that we would all suffer eventually,” he said.