By Wahab Akinlade
Chairman, Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has called for a review of the composition of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and thẹ Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
He noted that with what the profession is experiencing in recent years, the compositions should be completely rejigged, readjusted, retooled, recast and overhauled, to bring in independent people to perform the functions now vested in the two bodies, regarding recruitment, appointment, discipline and welfare of Judges and judicial officers.
The Senior jurist stated this in a Paper titled, “The Allegation of Corrption in the Legal Profession: Who is to Blame” delivered at the 2022 Annual Alao Aka-Bashorun Memorial Lecture organised by thẹ Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch held at Ikeja.
Chief Olanipekun spoke against thẹ background of the May 3 valedictory speech of a recently retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ejembi Eko Who suggested that budgetary allocation of the Judiciary be subjected to investigation by the anti-graft agencies.
Justice Eko also quoted the Director of Budget, Federal Ministry of Finance to have stated recently at the memorial lecture in honour of the late Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN, at the Sheu Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja that “it is baffling that the welfare of Judges remains in abject state inspite of the increase of the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary under this regime. Why? The said Director of Budget suggested that the panacea to the often touted underfunding of the Judiciary would be for “the judiciary to allow its books to be opened” by the relevant authorities.
Chief Olanipekun described the development at the apex court as topical and unprecedented legal conundrum which has to be nipped in the bud.
He therefore urged stakeholders in the nation’s Judiciary to wade into the row as quickly as possible.
One of the discussants, Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, said the function of the legal system cannot be achieved If practitioners continue to destroy it with lies.
He remarked that if the system is corrupted with money, it would be difficult to get justice.
Mr. Candide-Johnson regretted that some justices of the apex court have failed in the description of the character of an upright Judge.
“When you take oath as a Judge, it is not a game. If you can’t do it, leave it.”
A Life Bencher, Dele Adesina ,SAN, also said lawyers should be courageous enough to reject forum shopping from clients.
He stressed the need for the disciplinary Committee of the NBA to be able to sanction members as appropriate.
On his part, Dr Muiz Banire, SAN, remarked that lawyers themselves are the cause of the problems in the Judiciary saying, “If we don’t regulate ourselves now, it will give room for external body to regulate us.