The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday, disclosed that “corrupt judges will go to jail as the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will actively promote and ensure that corrupt judges are prosecuted and their illegally acquired assets are returned to the state.”
Malami also vowed that there will be no sacred cow in the fight against corruption in this dispensation.
The AGF, who spoke as a guest at the formal presentation of the report published by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) entitled “Go home and sin no more: Corrupt judges escaping from Justice in Nigeria,” observed that considering the pivotal role judges play in the administration of justice, it is important to ensure that they live above board.
“Considering the pivotal role that they play in the administration of justice, it is important to ensure that Nigerian judges, like the proverbial Ceazer’s wife, are beyond reproach or even suspicion. Gone are the days when corrupt judges escaped from justice in Nigeria,” he said.
The Nigerian chief law officer, who was represented by Abiodun Ahikomo at the occasion, noted that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will ensure that corrupt judges are prosecuted after they may have been sent out of the Bench by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and their illegally acquired assets returned to the state.
He said: “I can assure you today that in line with the cardinal agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation shall ensure that every appearance of corruption in the judiciary is dealt with among other measures through criminal prosecution and forfeiture to the State of illegally acquired assets.”
Also,Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, said both the Bar and Bench have the duty and collective responsibilities towards the dispensation of justice and corrupt free society.
Represented by Magistrate Busola Okunuga, a deputy chief registrar, the CJ noted that there are several mechanisms put in place by the judiciary to checkmate corruption and corrupt practices in the judiciary.
On his part, SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni said: “Corrupt judges are more dangerous to the society than corrupt politicians because a corrupt judiciary denies both victims of corruption and those accused of corruption access to an independent, impartial and fair adjudication process.
Mumuni disclosed that SERAP looks forward to working with the Attorney General of the Federation to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations contained in their report.
The report, among other things, is calling for the prosecution of corrupt judges; referral by the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Judicial Council of all cases of judicial corruption to appropriate anti corruption agencies; publication and auditing of spending by the judiciary; public and periodic disclosure of assets by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges; retired judges should be allowed to lead the National Judicial Council to improve its independence; and urgent investigation of allegations of age falsification among judges by the National Judicial Council.