Chief Justice Mahmud Mohammed has pointed out the role of the Federal Government and state governors for the existence of corrupt judges.
Mohammed’s indictment of the executive was contained in a letter sent to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
According to him: “The 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 with reference No.CJN/Gen/MISC/A37/Vol.XXI/8 and signed by the Senior Special Assistant, H. S. Sa’eed, to the CJN, was in response to SERAP’s request to Mohammed to “take over from the Department of State Services (DSS) the cases of all the seven judges and refer them to anti-corruption agencies for conclusion of investigation and prompt prosecution.”
The CJN added: “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.
“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.”