NJC protecting corrupt judges, says Itse Sagay

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay has said that the Judiciary is not on the same page with the Buhari government on the war against corruption.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria was responding to the decision of the National Judicial Council, NJC last week to recall the six judges from suspension who were being investigated for corrupt practices.

Sagay who spoke at a three-day conference on ‘Promoting International Cooperation in Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery to Foster Sustainable Development’, said the decision of the NJC may “undermine the integrity of the state”.

“This decision by the NJC that judges who were arrested, and those who are on trial like Ademola, whose case is a life case, and others who have not been charged, but are going to be charged, calling them back is for me a sign of hostility to the fight against corruption,” he said.

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“We cannot afford the judicial hierarchy to engage in esprit de corps with members of their group that are falling in the corruption struggle.

“They must join the executive whose mantra is total or near elimination of corruption for the sake of the survival of this country. Judges have a duty to join in this determination.

“So, that sort of decision that was taken gives the impression that they are hostile to the struggle. That’s one reason why I said they’re not on board.

“The judiciary, in my view, is the highest of the three arms of government. They are the only ones who adjudicate the disagreement between the other two. If you look at the set-up of the court they sit high above others and everybody is looking up at them.

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“The rest of us apply, move, plead and they decide, and there’s no democracy about their decision. Their decision is binding. Calling them my lord is not an accident. After God, members of that group are the smaller lords.

“The judge who is guilty of corruption is almost guilty of a crime against humanity because what he is doing is to undermine the whole integrity of the state. It means that when we have a major issue that can affect the future of the country, we can’t go to him because he’s dishonest, he lacks integrity and is fraudulent and will not decide the case according to the justice of it.”