By Our Correspondent
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Trust (PT), Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has cautioned the executive arm of government to thread softly in the handling of ongoing matters affecting the Chief Justice of the Federation.
Olawepo-Hashim, made the statement while reacting to reports about the impending trial of the Chief Justix of Nigeria(CJN) in a statement issued to journalists by his Chief Press Secretary , Hassan Ibrahim in Abuja on Sunday.
He affirmed that the development constitutes serious threat to democracy and rule of law, warning that separation of powers on which democractic order stands should not be destroyed on the altar of power play or any other reason.
He said that as one who was a leading voice in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria; “I owe inviolable the sacred principle of separation of power of which the independence of the judiciary is a fundamental element.”
He further said: “Nigeria’s Judiciary is surely, not perfect just like many other institutions of state that need urgent reforms. But this must not be a license for the executive for perfidious interference.
“There are mechanism for corrections of any errors done by judicial officers in the Nigerian constitution .
“What we are seeing now is not the activation of such mechanism but what appears like a political persecution of the judiciary which is dangerous for democracy, national unity and cohesion.
“Though with her own shortcomings, which can be internally cured within with the judiciary’s self correcting mechanism, our judiciary remains highly revered with an enviable jurisprudence and history. It has provided help to other countries by posting judges to many African countries such as Botswana , Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and even at the international level.
“That enviable record must not be recklessly blighted by the ongoing attempt to humiliate judicial officers.”
The PT’s candidate said this occasion has also provided an opportunity for the People’s Trust to elucidate its our policy perspective on the judiciary, stressing that the party’s manifesto, has already highlighted far-reaching justice sector reform initiatives aimed at repositioning the judiciary.
He said that the party envisions the Judiciary as a self-correcting institution through the National Judicial Council, and aims to reverse the humiliation and molestation of the judicial sector while stopping the erosion of judicial authority and mandates due to executive interference and harassment.
He stated further: “Under our Presidency, I will implement and pursue fundamental reform of the justice administration sector to guarantee the independence of the judiciary from executive interference while strengthening the system to justly and efficiently discharge her constitutional mandate. We intend to make the judiciary truly the last hope of the common person by stopping police brutality and removing hindrance in the justice administration.”
He lamented the increasing erosion and weakening of the democratic structures, adding that the Nigerian judiciary is not as bad as it is being painted.
Olawepo-Hashim urged stakeholders in the sector to consider the very difficult operating environment and the many brilliant output of the judiciary despite the depressing conditions under which judges and judicial officers operate in the country.
“Under our justice sector reforms, I have three major goals which we will not compromise namely immediate end to oppression of the poor though unjust incarceration; protection of judicial officers from humiliation through vindictive prosecutions; and strengthening National Judicial Council NJC for discipline of judicial officers without executive interference.
“Within my first week in office, I will order immediate discontinuation of all existing prosecutions against judicial officers. The Solicitor General of the Federation will be directed to file Noelle Prosecui for all cases against judicial officials while referring such matters to the National Judicial Council.”
“I will stop all actions and decisions deemed to be designed to humiliate and disgrace judicial officers. To ease the burden of judicial officers, we will massively deploy technology, create of more courts, and appoint more judges and enhancement of welfare of judicial officers,” he said.
Olawepo – Hashim stated further that he would strengthen the National Judicial Council to make judiciary a self-correcting institution.
“The NJC will be empowered to discipline erring judicial officers and we will widen and deepen the financial independence of the judiciary. We will give extensive support for the judiciary to retain independence from executive encroachment.
“No democracy flourishes when organs of government are subjected to authoritarian measures by a sitting president. We must respect rule of law, separations of power and allow checks and balances put in place to balance the political system,” the presidential hopeful said.