THE Federal Government’s anti-corruption war is coming under a barrage of fire. Two contiguous incidents underscore this. First, the Nigerian Bar Association openly described the Muhammadu Buhari’s “anti-graft strategy as faulty.” The NBA president, Abubakar Mahmoud, capped his Democracy Day salvo with a call on the executive to “terminate the investigations” against judges accused of corruption. Second, at the weekend, the National Judicial Council did the NBA’s bidding, restoring six of the judges in question. The coincidence is scary. It is a powerful and noxious message to the Buhari administration that its war on graft is facing a stiff test. There is the need, therefore, for an overhaul.
Condemning the government for taking too long to file charges against the judges, the NJC recalled Justice of the Supreme Court, Inyang Okoro; Uwani Aji of the Court of Appeal; three Federal High Court judges and another of the National Industrial Court. The FHC judges are Adeniyi Ademola, who has already been tried and acquitted, Musa Kurya and Hydiazira Nganjiwa. The judges were arrested after a crackdown in October 2016 by the State Security Service, whose agents raided their residences. Three others, including Rita Ajumogobia, are still on trial.
The position of the NBA and the NJC is a cause for concern. Mahmoud argues, quite ridiculously, that a period of eight months is too long for judges to be under investigation, while the NJC hinges its recall on the backlog of cases in the courts of the suspended judges. But it is erroneous to advocate blanket freedom for law officers accused of misconduct when the allegations against them have not been totally exhausted.
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