Coalition of about 40 civil society groups have urged security agencies to ensure that they respect the right of judges while they carry out their functions.
The group made the appeal at a two-day anti-corruption roundtable in Abuja. The event witnessed the presence of two Federal High Court and Court of Appeal Justices, officials of Human Rights Commission, Open Government Project, Media Rights Agenda, Director of Public Prosecution and Civil society organisations in Nigeria.
Mr. Emmanuel Uche, the anti-corruption Component Manager of Justice 4All, a body working in collaboration with British Council to fight corruption who addressed the opening session of the roundtable, enjoined judges to raise the bar on judicial integrity.
“It was noted that where there is no justice, there is no human rights, no peace or progress. If an institution such as Judiciary and all Anti-corruption Agencies are found to be corrupt, investors anywhere in the world will not be attracted to bring their resources to that country. This was agreed to be one of the major challenges. Another major challenge corruption does to a nation is to weaken other institutions and turn the nation into chaos, however, the attempt to rid the judiciary of corruption must be done within the ambit of all existing laws, in such a manner that does not compromise the independence of the Judiciary,” a statement from the group reads.
They stated that the charge with corruption offences in a high court by a Supreme Court justice indicates that there is crisis in the judiciary, adding that there is need for all stakeholders particularly the Civil Society Organizations to join forces to save judiciary from total collapse.
Part of their statement reads: “In respect of the arrest of judiciary, it is noted in the roundtable that the rights of the judges must not be violated in an effort to rid judiciary of corruption. The constitution of Nigeria states that every accused person is innocent until proven guilty so the media judgment that appears to denigrade judges including the non-corrupt ones is not in the best interest of justice.
“This position came out in the wake of the recent arrests and breaking of doors of serving judges to search their houses and effect their arrests. The sensitiveness of riding judiciary officers of corruption is important so that judiciary will not crumble in such a way that the hope of They also charged the judiciary and media to keep a strong eye on judges and the way they operates such as what happens in different courts, when they sit and what goes on in different courts, while Civil Society Organizations were also directed to constantly monitor the conduct of judges.