REVEALED | How The National Judicial Council (NJC) Shields Corrupt Judges

Operatives involved in investigating corrupt Nigerian judges arrested over the weekend have told SR how the main national body saddled with punishing judges have made it impossible to prosecute the judges even after they were found guilty by the same body, the National Judicial Council.

Security officials revealed that in the cases of judges arrested over the weekend by the Department of State Security, they had written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed a month earlier on the criminal conduct of some of the judges but the CJN who is the presiding chairman at the NJC refused to let the judges be interrogated. 

They said before the invitation by the DSS; even the EFCC had also tried to interrogate judges, 
some of whom were found to be in possession of huge sums of bribe money but the NJC had insisted that the sanctions by the body were sufficient.

In most cases, corrupt judges are just retired and left to enjoy their loot.

The NJC is made up a committee headed by the CJN as chairman while the second most senior judge at the Supreme Court, in this case, Walter Onnoghen is deputy chair, others includes the President of the Court of Appeal, five chief judges of state high courts chosen by the CJN, five legal practitioners and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

The current composition of NJC is also a problem, according to an EFCC official some members of the NJC are themselves corrupt and have been shown to be heavily involved in corruption. They pointed to immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Austin Alegeh who has petitions pending at the EFCC accusing him of embezzlement of NBA funds.

Also, another former NBA President, Joseph Daudu who chairs the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee has a case against him at EFCC over embezzlement of settlement fees paid to Nigeria by Halliburton.

Ricky Tarfa, another SAN who is involved in corrupt activities connecting several judges is also a member of Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, a body saddled with choosing senior lawyers known as “Senior Advocate of Nigeria.” 

In fact, Ricky Tarfa still retains his position despite being charged with bribery and corruption.

More troubling for law enforcement agents is the attitude of the outgoing CJN who they accused of shielding a judge of the Court of Appeal, Justice (Mrs) Uwani Abba-Aji, who reportedly received N8million from Ricky Tarfa. Despite her indictment, the CJN has recommended her for elevation to the Supreme Court. Just imagine!

A former CJN, Justice Katsina-Alu had also prevented Justice Umaru Eri of the National Judicial Institute in 2011 from honoring an invitation by the ICPC over allegations that N6billion went missing at his agency. Eri stayed as the chairman of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee until his retirement.

One of the cases involving now-retired Justice Gladys Olotu of the Federal High Court in the Abuja Division in 2014 was also cited as the reason the NJC has become a funny body; the judge was found by the EFCC to possess over N2billion in her bank accounts. As soon as the EFCC summoned her to appear she rushed to the court of Justice Adeniyi Ademola to obtain an order to stop the EFCC from acting on her case. Later, she was merely "retired”. Meanwhile, the same Justice Ademola was one of the judges arrested over the weekend with $500,000 found in his bedroom.

Soon after 7 judges including two Supreme Court justices were arrested in overnight raids carried out by the DSS, the CJN met with President Muhammadu Buhari to ask for their release.

Sources at the Presidency said while President Buhari assured him that the raids were not targeted at the judiciary but corrupt judges the CJN was said to have told President Buhari of some persons close to him who had funneled monies to judges to influence them in recent election cases.

In Nigeria today, it's as if majority of those in leadership positions are corrupt. Sigh!