Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega says some corrupt judges ‘selling judgements’ when made part of election petition tribunals.
He said this in his lecture at Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch as one of the events to mark its 2021 Law Week.
The former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, also said these judges who corruptly enrich themselves by selling judgments to the highest bidders, quickly retire to avoid being sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
“Some senior lawyers have become stupendously wealthy defending corrupt public officials, or handling electoral litigation for governorship and presidential candidates.
“Similarly, many judges have become notorious for corrupt enrichment for ‘cash and carry’ judgments, especially in election matters generally and in election tribunals, more specifically.
“Some election tribunal appointments were in the past widely said to have been made to senior judges about to retire, who allegedly ‘sold’ judgments, most likely to the highest bidders, enriched themselves and quickly retired to avoid being sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
“When lawyers use technicalities to subvert justice and ‘win’ cases without regard to perpetration of injustices, they basically help to undermine, rather than enhance national development, peaceful coexistence and security.
“They discard ethical and professional conduct, and put parochial and/or self-serving objectives in the forefront of their practices.”
Calling on the NBA and the Body of Benchers to urgently address the issue to save the country from crisis, Jega added;
“Specifically, on insecurity, a combination of militancy, insurgency, banditry, farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping for ransom, and ethno-religious or communal conflicts, with evident lack of competence and capacity to address these challenges, has unleashed generalised individual and collective apprehension, palpable insecurity and fatalistic resignation.
“Many citizens have been killed, maimed, raped, displaced, and properties stolen, confiscated and/or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been staying in Internally Displaced Persons camps for long, with the future of children compromised by malnutrition, diseases, and prolonged abandonment of schooling.
“In some areas of the country, notably North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, famine is imminent, as insurgents and/or bandits have obstructed farming and agrarian food production and destabilised the rural economy, with outright killing of whoever ventures out to their farms, or imposition heavy taxation on those allowed to farm.
“Indeed, things have been so bad for so long that, some scholars are beginning to perceive Nigeria now, perhaps exaggeratedly, as a ‘failed state.’”