18th September, 2012
News of the investigation of five judges, including two state chief judges, of corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has once again confirmed what we all knew- that the country’s judiciary is a cesspool of corruption. According to the report, the EFCC is beaming its searchlight on the high ranking judicial officers because of their fat bank accounts which the anti-graft agency suspected might be proceeds of fraudulent court judgments.
The report revealed that the EFCC has already obtained the bank accounts of the affected judges and how funds were wired into the accounts. Three of those affected were said to be judges of the Federal High Court. The EFCC, the report further revealed, was investigating curious lodgments into the accounts of the judicial officers by litigants and lobbyists overtime to influence judgments.
We are not surprised the EFCC found a large sum of money in the bank accounts of these judges because, as we have observed in previous editorials on the sleaze in the judiciary, there are some unscrupulous judges who made fortunes while deciding governorship election petitions between 2007 and 2011.
These bad eggs in the judiciary subverted justice with impunity and gave victory to politicians to satisfy their huge monetary demands. These judges became instant multi-millionaires and their status changed overnight. They acquired expensive cars and houses and travelled abroad any time they liked. These corrupt judges always go for the highest bidder among politicians in the dispensation of justice.
Some of them used surrogates to collect money on their behalf in order to subvert the course of justice while others collected money directly from the politicians. During the period earlier mentioned, there were stories about judges writing two judgments and delivering that which was favourable to the highest bidder.
As much as we commend the EFCC for beaming its searchlight on these fraudulent judges, we are, however, sad that the agency did not deem it fit to identify them by publishing their names. These fraudulent judges should be exposed and made to suffer public opprobrium as a result of their shameless acts.
Apart from investigating these corrupt elements that have soiled the image of the judiciary, the EFCC should go a step further by freezing these accounts after obtaining a court order to this effect. Though, the EFCC said it is yet to conclude investigation into the sources of the money found in their accounts, we plead with the agency to do a thorough job by locating the sources and bring them to book.
Those found to have bought justice should not only be made public, there should also be a retrial of the cases to dispense appropriate justice. We also call on the National Judicial Commission, NJC, to show keen interest in the ongoing investigation of the corrupt judges by the anti-graft agency. NJC should monitor the pace of investigation and ensure that these corrupt judges are brought to book. The NJC, as the highest judicial body in the land, should be seen to be interested in weeding out bad elements in its rank and the current searchlight on the illegal lodgments into the accounts of these corrupt judges should serve as a tonic.
The Judiciary is too important in the governance of a nation and should not be tainted by the activities of unscrupulous judges. As the last hope of the common man, everything needed to be done to sanitise the judiciary of corrupt elements should be done.