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Group Urges DSS To Hand Over Arrested Judges To Judicial Council

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A group known as Partners West Africa – Nigeria, has called on the DSS to release the judges arrested in raids across the country on Saturday, and hand over findings of its investigations to the National Judicial Council,NJC, which is the appropriate authority to deal with such issues.

Executive Director of the group, Kemi Okenyodo, said that the anti-corruption war must be prosecuted with total adherence to the rule of law so as not to set a bad example.

“Failure to do this (abide by the rule of law) creates a group of sympathizers that can take advantage of the lack of due process to continue to perpetrate actions that undermine the credibility of the nation state.”

The group reiterated its belief “that anybody found wanting should be made to face the full extent of the law because nobody irrespective of the position he or she occupies is above the laws of the land.

Okenyodo acknowledged that there was need to cleanse the judicial system and rid it of corruption.

He revealed that a study conducted in 2010 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, with support from the UN showed that the judiciary receives the largest bribe among other Nigerian institutions stained with corruption.

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He however added that though it is true that “public confidence in the judiciary has dwindled over the past years”, the National Judicial Council, NJC, “has taken steps to sanction over 70 judges in the past five years. The most recent decisions made public on the 30th September 2016.”

Okenyodo said: “At Partners West Africa–Nigeria: Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative, accountability of the judicial sector to the laws of the land and to average Nigerians cannot be compromised.

“The process of achieving this ‘cleansing’ which we all clamor for needs to be done within the remits of the law and mandate of all agencies involved so that it stands the test of open, transparent prosecution in the courts of law.”

He agreed that the DSS has a responsibility to provide leadership and criminal justice in Nigeria, but the NJC also has the responsibility of investigating accusations and petitions of corruption brought against judges.

“It is our belief that if the NJC has become ineffective, steps need to be taken to ensure that its internal accountability mechanisms are strengthened so as to ensure it plays it its rightful role within the judicial oversight system in a timely manner,” he stated.

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