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PROFESSOR Itse Sagay, SAN, is the chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption. In this interview, he justifies the raid by the Department of State Services, DSS, on the home of some judges. He also accused the National Judicial Council, NJC, for being ineffective in combating graft in the judiciary and opposed calls by some critics that the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, should step down following allegations against him by two of the affected justices.
I can respond to this as Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption because we have an official position, and that position is: There is nobody that is above the law in this country. The only people who are enjoying immunity against criminal prosecution are president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors. Anybody outside this group is totally subject to the full weight of the law for any crime he/she commits. Why we look at the judiciary, with all respect, is that we expect them to conduct themselves in such a manner that they are totally above suspicion. I personally have done a study of the judiciary in the past. The judiciary I refer to is the golden era of the Supreme Court – Supreme Court of Oputa, Nnamani, Obaseki and Bello among others. I studied their supreme courts and the image and aura that accompanied their conduct and the air around them were carried on from the colonial era. These are people no anti-corruption agency in Nigeria will dare accuse of corruption because they have such high moral of authority. These are the people, who when President Muhammadu Buhari was the military head of state, held, on many occasions, that actions of that government were illegal in one way or the other and the government obeyed immediately because of the authority these people had. So, any judicial authority that wants to maintain that aura and authority must be credible. You cannot be corrupt and expect to be respected. You cannot reduce yourself to a level where you are purchasable, where what I will call irresponsible and low type of lawyers will carry money to you and buy your soul and you sell your judgement. The highest bidder will now hand over money to the judge. So, when you bring us down to that level where nobody can determine the outcome of a judgement based on arguments, the law and facts, then you have destroyed the judiciary. Those judges, who are corrupt have destroyed the judiciary and nothing is too much for their punishment.
Sting operation: No punishment is too much for corrupt judges- Sagay
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