Lawyers seek adequate funding of judiciary to prevent corruption

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Some lawyers in Lagos said on Thursday that the judiciary required proper funding if the war against corruption and the search for speedy dispensation of justice were to succeed.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the lawyers stressed the need for sufficient remuneration for judicial officers.

The lawyers were speaking against the backdrop of the recent criminal charges preferred against two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), for allegedly offering bribes and gratification to judges to pervert the course of justice.

It will be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on March 9, arraigned Messrs Ricky Tarfa and Joseph Nwobike, before a Lagos High Court Igbosere, over the said offence.

A lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Ogedi Ogu, described the situation as an ugly trend in the legal profession, and called on the National judicial council (NJC) to address the issue.

“When it comes to corruption in the judiciary, I feel that they should be allowed to draw their emolument directly from the federation account.

“And they should be fully independent. when it comes to the finances and all logistics relating to them.

“They should not be made dependent on the government be it the state government or the federal government.

“When it comes to other areas of corruption I think the NJC must step up their supervisory role when it comes to the judiciary.

“Except lawyers are encouraged to make reports directly to the NJC, and the NJC must assure lawyers that they will treat every petition meritoriously without fear or favour; that is the only time we can be ready to make complaint.’’

In the same vein, another lawyer and social critic, Mr Mike Dugeri noted that the recent charges preferred against the two senior lawyers constituted an embarrassment to the legal profession.
According to him, the rules of professional conduct for lawyers were enacted to serve as a guide to the dealings of legal practitioners.

Dugeri, however, noted that there was need to ensure that judges as well as judiciary staff are well remunerated so as to check abuse of the law discipline.

“I think the judiciary is seriously underfunded and I think that the welfare of judges and to some extent anybody that works in the judiciary should be taken a bit more seriously.

“It is very important to make them resist some unnecessary temptation.

“All the same, we have a responsibility towards them to make sure that they are comfortable as possible so that they will be able to do their jobs fearlessly.

“It is very embarrassing already to have your name been mentioned in such things whether as a senior advocate, as a lawyer or as judges.

“The rules of conduct which the lawyers have also sworn to they are meant for good reasons and we have to keep to them at all cost.

“The government should really consider judicial independence, proper funding to make sure that we do not ever have to find ourselves in this kind of scandalous situation.’’

Another lawyer, Mr Emenike Nnoromlele, told NAN that it was necessary for the judiciary to be adequately funded, and those found guilty of bringing the judiciary to disrepute dealt with accordingly.

“The only way forward in the fight against corruption is to bring every offending officer to justice.

“There must be sanity in the system. It is an underlying principle of law that whoever must come to equity must come with clean hands, and also whoever seeks equity must do equity.

“Nobody can be above the law; if an officer of the judiciary is found in contravention of the law, he must be made to face the music,’’ he said



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