Executive arm responsible for corruption in the judiciary – CJN

Executive arm responsible for corruption in the judiciary – CJN
November 02 09:45 2016

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has blamed the executive arm of government for the pervasive corruption in the judiciary.

The CJN argued that the executive, not the National Judicial Council, should be blamed for not taking appropriate actions on erring judges.

In a letter dated 26 October 2016 and sent to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the CJN said ” failure on the part of the executive arm of government to act upon recommendations by the National Judicial Council (NJC) cannot be blamed upon the NJC.”

The letter which was signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the CJN, H. S. Sa’eed was in response to SERAP’s request to the CJN requesting him as chairman of the NJC to “take over from the Department of State Service (DSS) the cases of all the 7 judges released by the DSS and refer the cases of those judges to anticorruption agencies for conclusion of investigation and prompt prosecution.”

But the CJN in reaction told SERAP that, “Certainly, you will agree with me that where there are clear constitutional provisions relating to the power of any individual, institution or arm of government, then it cannot deviate nor exceed such powers as this will be unlawful.”

The letter by the CJN reads in part: “While restating the willingness of the NJC to act upon any petition as well as commitment of the Nigerian judiciary to the fight against corruption, his Lordship opines that any significant involvement in the fight against corruption will be upon a similar commitment of the Prosecutorial Agencies to actively prosecute their cases expeditiously when information about same is received. It is necessary to restate that the NJC is a creation of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) being established under Section 153 with its mandate clearly set out in Para 21, Part One of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

This provision clearly stipulates at Para 21(b) and (d) that the Council may only ‘recommend’ to the President and the Governors, the removal from office of Judicial Officers and to exercise disciplinary control over such Judicial Officers, which in effect is the extent of its power to discipline. Hence, the Council cannot, suo moto dismiss any Judicial Officer.

“The NJC can also neither ‘hand over corrupt judges to law enforcement agencies for prosecution nor recover proceeds of corruption, as you have suggested. It can merely recommend to act upon its findings, as it has always done.

“However, in exercise of its constitutional mandate, the NJC has enacted the Judicial Discipline Regulations, 2014 in order to ensure that petitions are received, investigated and addressed as appropriate. As SERAP’s own Report attests, 64 Judicial Officers have been disciplined within 5 years even preceding the institution of the new guidelines. Any failure on the part of the Executive Arm of Government to act upon such recommendations cannot therefore be blamed upon the NJC.”