A REJOINDER: LAWYERS REPLY BUHARI
By Silas Jock Santoi
I write this Rejoinder in reference to reports published on the pages of newspapers of November, 09-15,2009, captioned “ARMY OFFICER DRAGS YAR ‘ADUA TO COURT-NO LAWYER IS WILLING TO TAKE UP THE CASE” and the Guardian report of Thursday, December 4th• 2014 captioned “ERA OF SECRECY IN JUDICIARY OVER, SAYS CJN”.
Considering President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to fight corruption in Nigeria, but his headache being the judiciary which he has criticised of recent leading to laywers reaction as reported on the Daily Sun of Wednesday, July 20, 2016, reported that:
“LAWYERS REPLY BUHARI” The report carried that lawyers yesterday tackled President Muhammadu Buhari over his criticism that the judiciary has failed Nigerians and is frustrating the speedy determination of corruption cases and lhat President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said that judiciary was yet to perform its fanztion to the satisfaction of Nigerians, in spite of the reforms brought about by the administrati mi of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.
It will be recalled that the Daily Sun had also earlier reported on Monday, Fcbruary 2016, on a similar issue that, “CORRUPTION WAR: JUDICIARY, MY HEADACHE -BUHARI” that “The judiciary remained my main headache on the arti-corruption war and that the ongoing fight against corruption can be effectively tackled with strong support of the judiciary”.
However, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr Austir .11egeh (SAN) was reported as having reacted, that an enabling environment must be put in place for Judges to perform optimally in the discharge of their duties and that President Buhari stould put something in place for Judges to perform their role without inhibition.
What a flimsy excuse by the NBA President? Instead of the NBA to render their apology to Nigerians for the glaringly negligence of protecting justice and of course the Nigerian constitution which is the anchor c f democracy everywhere. In his explanation, Mr Amobi Nzelu emphasised that President Buhari only expressed his personal opinion on the matter, he also lauded the anti corruption war of President Buhari.
According to Mr Nzelu “I appreciate what Buhari is doing and I doff my cap for him ;or touching those who were perceived to be untouchable and he further said there was massive corruption, the country was looted dry and people are now in pains as a result”. May I therefore take advantage of my experienced as a victim of judicial ill-treatment due to conspiracy a;ainst justice in the Federal High Court since 2004 to date by reminding the NBA on previous worrisome report credited to some concerned Nigerians on the degrading state of the Nigerian judic ilry of which to my mind is enough reasons that deserve not only an apology from the NBA but they require total over haul of their leadership and review of their roles to effectively protect the Nigerian democracy.
Firstly is a publication by the New Nigerian on Wednesday, March 25th 2009, captioned “NBA DASHES ARMY OFFICER’S HOPE FOR JUSTICE”, this report pointed out how the NBA refused to intervene on a petition against professional misconduct done by a lawyer over a case in the Federal High Court.
The report said that NBA National Secretariat wh is the umbrella body for all lawyers in Nigeria to which the petitioner went as a last resort, hoping that his case would be accelerated but has written to him saying, after going through his petiti it of denial of fair hearing, and that due to the fact that NBA has a standing policy of non-interference in matters pending in courts.
“the matter is beyond our jurisdiction, It is regrettable that we cannot help you” this was contrary to the action taken by the Kaduna chapter of NBA that had earlier intervened and referred the matter to the NBA National body, insisting that it was the appropriate place to handle such a matter of conspiracy against justice in the court. In another recort that reacted to the NBA was the rejoinder on Yar’Adua not taking corruption seriously as reparted by the New Nigerian, Friday May 22s 2009.
The rejoinder to the NBA, President stated that “Sir may I first and foremost congratulate the NBA for its sensitivity as to the Nigerian situation, having come out with the resolution that “the time to act is now”. I sincerely hope you will take this stand seriously and stop fooling Nigerians.
This was when NBA President accused late President Yar’Adua of not taking corruption seriously. The rejoinder further challenge the NBA cn issues including, what the NBA is doing about innocent Nigerians that are languishing in prisons for lack of justice, the frustration by many Nigerians with genuine cases in the court due to conspiracy against justice by Judges and legal practitioners, the complaints of happenings at the election tribunals as a result of compromise by lawyers and Judges and that the NBA President to explain why a case of seeking for redress in the court will have to pass through about three Judges and over ten legal firms without having the controversy on the matter determined but yet the NBA refused to intervene in such report.
Another reaction to the NBA is on the National Mirror of Tuesday September 27th 2011 captioned “FASHOLA CONDEMNS ROT IN THE JUDICIARY, that he as a lawyer by profession also flays lawyers over unethical practices, where as the Daily Sun of Tuesday September 20th 2011, reported that “JUDICIAL OFFICERS ENDANGER DEMOCRACY – rrsE SAGAY, who is the present Chairman on committee of corruption of the judiciary.
He spoke in an exclusive interview and said the development constitutes a grave danger to the nation’s democracy, that the crises in the judiciary is created by a group of high judicial officers who have political affiliation to satisfy their political masters at the expense of integrity of the judicial system.
The Daily Sun of Tuesday October 4th 2011. Captioned “DEVIL HAS TAKEN OVER JUDICIARY — OPADOKUN”, he warned that the country will go under with the way judiciary was being treated in recent past, that a nation where the last hope of common man and the stabilizing force like the judiciary is being subverted and pigeon — holed will go under. More interesting is the confession done by none other person but the then NBA President Mr Okcy Wali, who was reported by the National Mirror of Thursday May I” 2014, as having said that “SOME SERVING JUDGES ARE WORSE THAN BOKO HARAM” and appealed to the Federal government to fix the judiciary so as to win investors, when as the No. 1 judicial officer in Nigeria, the Hon Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National
Judicial Council, Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed, also emphasised that THE ERA OF SECRECY IN THE JUDICIARY IS OVER, this was reported on the Guardian of Thursday December 4th 2014.
According to the ON, the media was critical to election performance of the judiciary even as he said that the era when the activities of the judiciary were shrouded it secrecy is over.
He said that there was the need for the public to be properly informed about thy: nature and activities of the judiciary and that the role the press played in enthroning integrity, probity and transparency in the judiciary could neither be underestimated nor over emphasized. Goff: are the days of acrimonious relationship between the judiciary and the press, he further emphasised that in the time past the relationship between the judiciary and the press was not clearly de ineated. “What the judiciary had on the ground were only restrictive prescription for giving out information from the judiciary or the courts.
This made the activities of the judiciary or the courts. This made the activities of the judiciary shrouded in secrecy and the public were not properly informed or educated about the nature and activities of the judiciary, that the general belief was that all the activities of the judiciary started and ended in the court room.
The scare of the dreaded subjudise or contempt of courts having ominously over every information or on the head of the information disseminator. The judiciary was a no-go area for the media by whatever means and the judiciary itself saw no use it could make of the press. The judiciary completely lived in its cot eon; any prying cyc of the media into the affairs of the judiciary was treated as a satanic invasion or demonic intrusion that must be resisted and repelled by any means especially by the use of t le doctrine of contempt of court cx facie curie.
However the trend has changed, the judiciary as U e third arm of government treats the press as the fourth estate of realm, since the judiciary as an irm of government is subsystem within the state, it cannot therefore be insulated from the stimuli (both internal and external) which impact upon and influence the state as a system. In that wise, it is imperative that the conduct of the affairs of the judiciary should be brought to tie full knowledge of the environment, which it serves through informed media participation as is the case with other organs of the governmental framework.
The participation of the press in the judiciary affairs creates a healthy environment for the human elements in the judicial, to exercise their rights to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinion and to reccive and impact ideas and information without any hindrance as guaranteed by Section 39(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The ON was also reported to have said in Vanguard of Monday, December 8th 2014, that SOME SENIOR LAWYERS ARE BEHIND CORRUPTION IN THE JUDICIARY.
According to that report, tht Chief Justice of Nigeria made this allegation when the leadership of the NBA, led by its National President, the very Mr Augustine Alegch, (SAN), paid him a courtesy visit in his office. The’CRY maintained that some lawyers not only aid, but equally abet corruption within the bench, a situation he said portends danger for justice system in the country and he further tasked the NBA as a body to put in more effort towards purging itself of some corrupt elements within its ft Id. In view of the above revelation on judicial misconduct which is corruption that must he eradicated and should be a very big concern to the NBA, that have woefully failed Nigerians in carryirg out their responsibilities of protecting justice.
It is therefore most ridiculous that the present NBA President despite all these confirmation about the negligence of the judiciary in carrying out their professional responsibilities but he still has the guts to challenge the President and the Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for pointing out the simple truth on the state of the judiciary in Nigeria, which is even base on his personal experience with the judiciary in the past. The question now is does the NBA president wants to continue fooling Nigerians in their normal deceit that no one should comment on any issue about the judiciary even when lawyers glaringly carry out unethical practices in the court?
This will definitely create more room for the perfecting of misconduct in the court and thereby render he good effort of fighting corruption by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration counter productive, because winning corruption war in any where must start with the judiciary which is the stabilizing force in every country.
Lt Col. Silas Jock Santoi is an embattled military officer.