Judges Prosecution Can’t End Judicial Corruption, Says Ex-Ekiti AG
Posted: 27/Dec/2016

THE prosecution of some judges and other court’s officials is incapable of eradicating corruption in the judiciary, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ekiti State, Olawale Fapodunda, has said.

Fapodunda, who faulted the Federal Government’s approach to tackling corruption in the judiciary, said the present measure, driven solely by the Executive, was individualistic and could be counter-productive.

He suggested a more robust approach, requiring collaboration between all arms of government, with the aim of evolving a holistic solution capable of addressing the various challenges plaguing the judiciary.

Fapohunda spoke in Abuja while delivering an annual lecture. The lecture, with the theme: “Role of the media in enhancing the campaign for human rights protection in Nigeria,” was held with support from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The former Ekiti AG said the failure of the government to address the challenges in the criminal justice system accounts for increasing cases of rights abuses. He noted that until the various institutions within the criminal justice system – the courts, the prison service and the police – were fully reformed, to allow for optimal performance, the problem of rights abuses will persist.

“I will not be saying anything new by saying that the failure of our criminal justice system and the tragic state of our criminal justice institutions have been largely responsible for the unprecedented level of criminality that today constitutes a growing threat to the enjoyment of the human rights by Nigerians – including the most fundamental rights to life. The need to focus on prevention and strengthening the criminal justice response to all forms of criminality, including terrorism, has become an increasing priority.

“An important institution in this regard is our judiciary. The biggest news in 2016 is the arrest and ongoing prosecution of a number of judicial officers. You know better than I do that our judiciary faces certain inherent problems, which show the weaknesses and defects of the system. These require immediate reforms. Corruption is just one of these challenges. Judicial corruption is not simply about judges taking bribes, it includes all forms of inappropriate influence that may damage the impartiality of justice. A judgment or court order that does not follow judicial precedent or is inherently defective can be prima facie evidence of corruption. Other challenges include the backlog of pending cases in all our courts, the use of archaic systems, poor infrastructure and limited recognition of lower courts.

“To be sure, I am yet to see how the prosecution of these judges will fundamentally change the reality of our court system. Fighting judicial corruption is a good idea, but a Judiciary that frequently goes cap in hand to the Executive for funding, even for the most basic of its needs, cannot, by any stretch of imagination, inspire citizens’ confidence,” Fagbohungbe said.

Acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC Mrs. Oti Ovrawah argued that most Nigerian still did not understand what constitute human rights, which accounts for why some senior lawyers could query the involvement of the NHRC in election matters.

Mrs. Ovrawah, who was represented by a senior official of the commission, Wahab Oyedokun, said the opposition to the NHRC’s reports on indicted electoral offenders, released earlier in the year, was because people did not know that acts of violence, thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, among others deny the electorate their right to peacefully participate in the process of choosing their leaders.

By Eric Ikhilae

Get Free Email Updates