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Published On: Fri, May 30th, 2014

Democracy Day: Kudos, knocks for Nigeria’s judiciary

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Kudos and knocks yesterday trailed theperformance of the Nigerian judiciary, as the nation marked 15 years ofuninterrupted democratic governance.

Some prominent lawyers who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)in Lagos commended the judiciary for playing a vital role insustaining the nation’s democracy.

Others, however, said there was still a lot to be done to improve onits performance due to allegations of corruption and other corruptpractices by judicial officers.

Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said some judges had delivered judgmentsthat had deepened democracy and promoted good governance.

Ozekhome noted that the judiciary had performed better than other armsof government since Nigeria returned to democracy on May 29, 1999.

“It has held its head high above murky waters, refusing to be cowedor vanquished by the two other more powerful sister arms of government- the Legislature and the Executive.

Another lawyer and former lawmaker, Mr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa, said thereforms being put in place by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, JusticeAloma Mukhtar, had repositioned the judiciary.

However, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, told NAN that thegood work of some judges had been tainted by the level of corruptionin the sector.

Aturu said: “There have been ugly incidences of judges been removed because of corruption.

“Some judges have given orders which they ought not to have given;particularly those judges who restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting or prosecuting corruptofficials’’.

According to him, such judgments ridicule what the judiciary stands for.

On his part, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo (SAN), a former Lagos StateAttorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said there was aperception of lack of integrity on the nation’s judiciary.

“There is a perception that things should be a lot better, especiallywith regards to integrity. There have been many allegations ofjudicial corruption which is very unfortunate.

“The NJC has treated a few of them and it will show that it may berampant than we think because corruption and corrupt practices arehardly reported,” Osibanjo said. (NAN)

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