A prominent pro-transparency and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen of lack of will power in the fight against pervasive corruption within the judiciary.
The Rights group also upbraided the president Muhammadu Buhari for protecting his aides, ministers and staff found to have committed huge amount of corruption and for parading fake certificates. The group wondered why erstwhile Secretary to the government of the federation Babachir Lawan implicated in multimillion alleged heist of internally displaced persons’ fund and those who were implicated in the $25 billion NNPC’s contract scam are yet to be prosecuted. HURIWA also accused President Muhammadu Buhari of protecting the national chairman of his party Adams Oshiomhole who was dragged to EFCC over large scale multibillion fraud in Edo state.
HURIWA said the failure of president Buhari to show good example by firing two of his officials – the minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and his senior Special Assistant on prosecution Mr. Obono Obla indicted for parading allegedly forged exemption certificate from the National Youth Service Corp Scheme (NYSC) and fake WAEC certificate is the greatest act of tolerating corruption at the highest levels.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA accused the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of monumental corruption just as the Rights group questioned why the $ 25 Billion contract scam in NNPC has been swept under the carpets.
In a statement on the state of the Nation, HURIWA lamented that massive corruption and bribery in the judiciary has gravely damaged the integrity of the justice system even as the Rights group accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria of failing to provide responses to a validly presented request based on the freedom of information Act regarding an official memorandum by president Buhari to the Chief Justice of Nigeria in which the presidency rejected five nominees for judicial elevation on the ground that they are unfit to be so elevated. HURIWA accused the Chief justice of Nigeria of keeping in office top officials rejected for appointments into higher judicial offices.
HURIWA recalled that it sent an FOI request urging the CJN thus: “We are however, by this letter demanding a certified true copy of the latest communication from the presidency in which Mr. President rejected five of the nominees by NJC for judicial appointments and even for elevation to appellate courts on the ground of serious indictment bordering on professional and official misconduct. We are referring to the last sets of judicial officers your good self-swore in as judges. Five amongst the nominees were rejected due to security indictments bordering on misconduct.”
“One of the names on the list include a serving justice of the Abuja High Court and a Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court.”
“Our request is anchored on the relevant sections of the freedom of information Act just as the information is required for the purposes of helping the justice sector to reshape the administration of justice and improve anti-corruption strategies. Under section 22 of the constitution, our group which is media affiliated is empowered to deploy the instrument of mass media to check the excesses of officials of different arms of government in Nigeria. ”
“The office of the CJN may be too busy doing other things than attend to requests by credible civil society groups asking for vital information that can be pieced together to strategically provide the best agenda to wage war against corruption in the judicial system which have escalated. There is the likelihood that there are persons embedded in the office of the Honourable the CJN that may be throwing away such important requests for vital and strategic body of evidence on corruption allegations. We had sent similar petition on a Presidential aide that WAEC eventually confirmed parades fake certificate but someone inside the office of the CJN kept returning a written instruction that we should bring additional proofs not until WAEC appeared before the NASS and revealed that our allegations are factually verifiable and till date the CJN has done nothing to investigate the claim that a lawyer allegedly used fake certificate to gain admission into the SCN as an advocate and a solicitor. We have it on good authority that there are many petitions on this matter we raised that are lying around in the NJC but have yet not get fastrack approach. Corruption is a grave threat to all arms of govt. The Executive is very suck of corruption. The US ThinkTank recently issues damaging reports in this direction. The parliament is also very sick.”
Arguing that corruption was stiffling sustainable development, HURIWA charged government and the three arms of government to use the law to combat corruption because according to it: “We must also distinguish the State from Society. Society is an association of human beings and suggests the whole complex of the relations of man to his fellows. It consists of the complicated network of groups and institutions expressing human association. The state is one of the groups, a society, not society. It is the most important group, but still not identical with society. There are many groups in society like the family, the caste, the church and the trade union which do influence social life, but which owe neither their origin nor their inspiration to the State. Again, there are social forces like custom, imitation and competition which the state may protect or modify but certainly does not create; and social motives like friendship or jealousy which establish relationships too intimate and personal to be controlled by the great engine of the state.”