Friday Olokor, Abuja
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joe-Kyari Gadzama, has commended the National Judicial Council for its move to inject sanity and restoring credibility into the bench.
Gadzama (pictured below), however, advised that the move of the NJC should go beyond the punishment the council took against three judges, who were recommended for sacking last week.
On Friday, the NJC recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari the compulsory retirement of a justice of the Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya.
Justice Tasmiya was sanctioned over allegations of meeting with a party to a case before him, Nnamdi Oji, three times and on each occasion, demanding the sum of N200m to influence the Court of Appeal panel in Owerri, which sat on election cases that arose from the 2015 general elections.
The NJC also recommended the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, for compulsory retirement and Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court for dismissal.
The NJC recommended Auta for prosecution over an allegation of collecting N197m from a man simply identified as Alhaji Kabiru, who wrote a petition to the NJC against him.
Justice Umezulike, during his book presentation, allegedly received a donation of N10m from a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, during the pendency of two cases in the judge’s court, and in both suits the business mogul (Arthur Eze) was said to have had “vested interest.”
According to Gadzama, a lot still needs to be done by the NJC to reposition the judiciary, saying the sacking of the three judges is not enough as many things are still wrong in the nation’s judiciary.
The SAN spoke with journalists on Saturday in Abuja on the sideline of the Independence Golf Tournament sponsored by the Nigerian Breweries Plc.
The judges, he said, could approach the court to seek redress over the action of the NJC.
He stated, “The judiciary has to do more because what happened (the sacking) will set an example for others to follow. In other words, many will avoid the pitfalls and try to do the right thing and avoid corruption. But they (NJC) need to do more.
“The NJC cannot go wrong because it is the highest disciplinary body for the judiciary and it comprises the first 11 at that level, including practising lawyers and fear-minded people.
“If they can come in their number to sit and agree after due process of hearing the suspects and then coming out with these decisions, I don’t think you can fault that easily. But they (the judges) are at liberty to approach the court and ventilate their anger and see whether they can overturn it. But I think it’s an uphill task.”
Gadzama called on Buhari to press ahead with his ongoing fight against corruption but warned against selective prosecution of suspects.
He added, “Agreed, there’s good leadership in place at the highest level but the fight against corruption should have no sacred cows. It should be all-encompassing and we need to be supportive and we also need to reunite ourselves and be hard working and try to be manufacturers and producers and not consumers and everybody should have self discipline.
“We can only achieve the Nigeria of our dream if we begin to show good leadership wherever we find ourselves – in the house and everywhere, in the mosque, in the church, in the office – so that those coming behind us can learn a few things from us.”
Gadzama expressed disappointment at the pace of development in the country after 56 years of independence, adding that the country derailed from the path of the founding fathers, resulting in its present situation.
He, however, said the nation’s independence was worth celebrating despite the challenges facing the country.