Human Rights and Anti Corruption Coalition on Wednesday demanded a decisive action against corrupt judges in the nation.
The group made the demands in a peaceful anti-corruption protest to the Federal High Court, Ikeja Division Lagos.
According to Desmond Abiona, Lagos coordinator, “the democracy we thought we had for almost two decades was a farce,the judiciary that is a crucial arm of government that should be the last recourse of the common man is a bigger problem than what we had hoped it would solve for us.
”The arrest of seven judge of various courts exposed how bad the cancer of corruption has spread in our polity. We mourn not just because these judicial officers have been fooling us. We mourn because they were still able to get gullible citizens that are fighting for them by condemning the sequence of events and the process of their arrests.
“Suddenly, arrests that were executed with valid warrants are being criticized by the same people who have been shortchanged by rogue judges all their lives. It is simply inconceivable.”
He noted that a few people might have bought into the lies that there was a clamp down on the judiciary to make it pliable to the executive arm and challenged those that have been indicted or arrested to dare come to equity with clean hands.
“We dare them to apply the same test of the law that they have applied to the masses on themselves and see if they will not spend the remainder of their natural lives in jail without the possibility of state pardon.”
Abiona predicted that, in the coming days, youths recruited by agents commissioned by the Judges will hold protests at which their covert spokespersons allege witch hunting.
“We however want to clearly set out here that arrest of judges, or anyone found to have been corrupt is not witch-hunt, it is not politics and definitely it is not clamping down on freedoms.
“Anyone that they contact to be part of protests either on the streets or in the virtual cyberspace would do well to identify and appreciate the issues:
“In the number of years that we have returned to democratic rule, corrupt judges have been steadily eroding the gains of democracy. They have in some instances sold judgment to the highest bidders such that votes no longer count and millions of people are saddled with representatives and leaders they did not actually vote for.
“The men and women who threatened our democratic freedom with their avarice have no right walking free when indicted, they should face the law they profess and bear their punishments if convicted.”
He further stressed that, The Nigerian Police Force can tell of their frustration in the hands of corrupt judges who turn psychopathic robbers lose on Nigerian streets for money.
“Every family that has ever lost a loved one to the hails of bullets fired by judge-pampered robbers would attest to the fact that a corrupt judge is worse than a robber in that he wields a more deadly weapon as the scales of justices is superior to firearms.
“Has anyone ever wondered why many of the killer kidnappers are not first timers? It is because corrupt judges always set them free everytime security agencies release them. And yet, even the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), whose members have been fair game to kidnappers can come out to speak in favour of the corruption that is keeping criminals on our streets.
“How many terrorists have we successfully convicted and put away for good? Not many. Corrupt judges will not allow it. They will rather receive bribes and allow killers roam the land with explosive belts and AK47 than deploy the judiciary as a tool for curbing terrorism.
“If the Police is frustrated the EFCC and ICPC have been emasculated by corrupt judicial officers. Corrupt judges hold the position of the auctioneers in the bazaar that public offices have been reduced to. They are the high priests that pronounce the final blessing on stolen funds for treasury looters to go enjoy their spoils in peace and comfort. It is they who grant perpetual orders that restraint thieves from being arrested to answer for their crimes,” he said.
He noted that modern slavery exists in Nigeria thanks to the corrupt ones among the country’s Judges.
According to him they are the ones who receive hard currencies from foreign investors and expats to keep the rest of Nigerians who cannot part with bribes subservient and subvert the very nation they swore to serve.
“Nigerians who have lost ancestral plots of land can relate. Corrupt judges are even land agents. They take away people’s patrimony not minding the sacrilege implied in their action. They are even kingmakers who have sold rulings on chieftaincy matters to the paying party – altering forever the spiritual and ancestral links that ethnic nationalities hold dear.
“Even the holy books placed curses on those who deliver justice for a bribe. We must therefore begin to make the curses manifest in the lives of our corrupt judges.
“The expectation is that persons in whose veins human blood still flows and who have conscience must rise up to condemn the corruption in the judiciary while canvassing support for efforts geared towards sanitizing that arm of government. Nothing; not ethnicity, class, political affiliation, religion or any other consideration should make anyone support the evil embodied by men who sell justice for bribes. There must be no place for corrupt judges in this country. We need a sanitized judiciary to achieve success in the anti corruption and anti-terror war. We need a clean bench to drive democratic reforms,” he said.
The group further demanded that, all the judges so far indicted or arrested for corruption immediately resign considering the magnitude of the case that the DSS has built against them.
“The cases of those that have been given lenient punishments that amount to a slap on the wrist by the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be revisited with a view to dragging them before a law court.
“The DSS must widen its investigation to take in all the petitions that the NJC has ever discarded given the fact that the council has demonstrated amply that it tends to shield corrupt judge.”
The group further suggested that arrested judges should be charged to court within the shortest time possible so that they cannot claim their rights were violated.
“We want to clearly warn the judges that would be handling the trial of these arrested men that Nigerians would be watching closely and this is no time to play fraternal games. In addition to accepting bribes and being corrupt there is also something called conflict of interest and Nigerians will be watching.” Abiona said.