When Salami took the bar and bench to clean­ers

Daily Trust - - FEATURE - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, Ilorin By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

The Bi­en­nial 2014 Law Week of the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA), Ilorin branch held last week may have come and gone, how­ever the poser it raised may re­main un­re­solved for a very long time. The open­ing cer­e­mony of the week-long event was held on Tues­day at the Mustapha Akanbi Foun­da­tion hall which dwelled on the theme of the week, “A cen­te­nary of le­gal prac­tice in Nigeria: 1914-2014: Lega­cies and lessons for the next century.” It was a fo­rum of the creme-de-lacreme in the bar and the bench who gath­ered to ap­praise the state of the le­gal prac­tice vis-a-viz the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary.

Among the em­i­nent jurists in at­ten­dance were for­mer Pres­i­dents of Court of Ap­peal, Jus­tice Mustapha Akanbi and Jus­tice Isa Ayo Salami, Chief Judge of Kwara State, Jus­tice Ayinla Bamigbola, act­ing Grand Khadi of Kwara State Shari’a Court of Ap­peal, Jus­tice Sal­ihu Olorun­toyin Mo­hammed, among oth­ers while the cer­e­mony was de­clared open by the state gover­nor, Al­haji Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed.

Jus­tice Salami who chaired the open­ing cer­e­mony de­liv­ered a thought-pro­vok­ing ad­dress which raised fun­da­men­tal ques­tion about the in­tegrity of the ju­di­ciary re­garded as the last hope of the com­mon man.

Ac­cord­ing to Salami, the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary presently stinks of cor­rup­tion with the judges aiding and abet­ting cor­rupt prac­tices in or­der to en­rich them­selves. He de­clared that many re­tired and se­nior judges now act as con­sul­tants in fix­ing judge­ments.

He said, “The prob­lem of Ma­jor stake­hold­ers in the jus­tice sec­tor have called upon the se­nate to ur­gently pass into law the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (ACJ) Bill 2013.

Chair­man House Com­mit­tee on Jus­tice, Ahmed Ali and other ma­jor stake­hold­ers made the call while speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, last week, in Abuja or­ga­nized by the Tech­ni­cal Work­ing Group of the Panel on Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Jus­tice Re­form (PIJR) and sup­ported by the Jus­tice for All of DFID, United Na­tions Of­fice Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Cen­tre for So­cio-le­gal Stud­ies.

Oth­ers present at the con­fer­ence are Mrs. Stella Dorgu, mem­ber, House Com­mit­tee on Jus­tice, Prof. Yemi Akin­s­eye Ge­orge SAN, and con­vener of the tech­ni­cal work­ing group of panel on the im­ple­men­ta­tion on jus­tice re­form cor­rup­tion in the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary is real and has eaten deep into the sys­tem. It must, how­ever, be noted that it is not all Ju­di­cial Of­fi­cers that are cor­rupt and dis­hon­ourable. There are those who are clearly iden­ti­fi­able as cor­rupt but they are pro­tected by the sys­tem. There are those who lack courage and their timid­ity is ex­ploited to per­vert the course of jus­tice.

“We hear con­stantly that the lack of courage of these ones are ex­ploited by ei­ther their col­leagues or re­tired se­nior judges who prac­tice as con­sul­tants in fix­ing judge­ments. These con­sul­tants take money from lit­i­gants to give judges or in­tim­i­date judges to per­vert jus­tice. It is my re­spect­ful view that ap­peal should be made to these re­tired se­nior jus­tices to leave the de­spi­ca­ble role of brib­ing or in­tim­i­dat­ing judges. They should en­gage them­selves in other re­spectable vo­ca­tions.

“The judges who lend them­selves to this dis­hon­ourable prac­tice of re­ceiv­ing money or lend­ing them­selves to per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice un­der any guise of not re­ceiv­ing re­ward, mon­e­tary or other­wise, should note that there are other means of check­ing their ex­cesses.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, many judges live in op­u­lence in Nigeria, own­ing as much as 16 vin­tage cars in ad­di­tion to hav­ing “houses which are talk of the town in their com­mu­nity fur­nished with ex­otic fur­ni­ture.”

Salami also noted that the no­bil­ity of le­gal pro­fes­sion is fast wan­ing, lament­ing that a body as im­por­tant as Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion ( NBA) was given just a slot in the on­go­ing na­tional con­fer­ence. He said this “shabby treat­ment” was pos­si­ble be­cause the body’s lead­er­ship has “meekly sub­mit­ted to po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in re­turn for pa­tron­age.”

He re­called that in the good old days, a coun­sel would not hes­i­tate to put for­ward author­ity which does not favour his client but as­sist the case of his op­po­nent, adding, “But to­day, our coun­sel would not only keep such author­ity from their learned friends, they would goad the court to fol­low wrong prin­ci­ple of law. Some Se­nior Ad­vo­cates mis­led a Supreme Court panel to em­ploy pro­vi­sion of the Supreme Court Rules to over­ride the pro­vi­sion of the con­sti­tu­tion which de­nied Supreme Court of ju­ris­dic­tion to en­ter­tain mat­ters re­lat­ing to elec­tion pe­ti­tions thus caus­ing that court to un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally and il­le­gally dis­miss an ap­peal pend­ing in the Court of Ap­peal where it ter­mi­nates. The con­duct of the Se­nior Ad­vo­cates

L-R, Chief Judge of Kwara State, Jus­tice Ayinla Olatunji Bamigbola; Kwara State Gover­nor, Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed and for­mer Pres­i­dent, Court of Ap­peal, Jus­tice Isa Ayo Salami, dur­ing the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, Ilorin Branch, 2014 Bi­en­nial Law Week in Ilorin on Tues­day.

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