The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Sunday told Nigerians to report corrupt and other unprofessional conduct of judges to the National Judicial Council.
Justice Onnogehen said Nigerians should take advantage of the existence of the relevant institutions by reporting corrupt judges to them instead of smearing the image of the judiciary through making unsubstantiated allegations in the mass media.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Awassam Bassey, said the CJN made this call in reaction to a newspaper publication in which a former senator, Uche Ekwunife, “accused the judiciary of robbing her of her mandate in the 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial Election through nullification.”
The statement read, “Justice Onnoghen says Nigerians should learn to take advantage of institutions that have been established to handle allegations of corruption and unprofessional conduct by judicial officers, including cases of judicial fraud which the senator cited as the reason for the loss of her mandate in the law courts.
“The Honourable Chief Justice advises against individuals dragging the name of the Judiciary in the mud through unsubstantiated allegations in the mass media and advises such individuals to employ well-established institutions and avenues to petition any judicial officer who engages in corruption and unprofessional conduct.
“”Therefore, in the interest of the generality of Nigerians, and the ongoing war against corruption, the Chief Justice of Nigeria calls on Senator Ekwunife to petition the judges she accuses of corruption and unprofessional conduct.
“The Honourable CJN assures Nigerians that if anyone has evidence against any corrupt judicial officer, and such a person brings forward the necessary documents before the National Judicial Council, the concerned judicial officer or officers will be investigated and where found liable, dealt with in accordance with the law.”
According to Bassey, the CJN also warned politicians to desist from smearing the image of the judiciary in the media, while also assuring law-abiding and hardworking judges that they had nothing to fear.
Bassey stated, “At the same time, the Chief Justice of Nigeria wishes to use this medium to warn politicians to desist from using the mass media to smear the good image of the nation’s Judiciary in general, and the hardworking and honest judicial officers in particular.
“His Lordship the Chief Justice calls on all law-abiding and hardworking judicial officers to go about discharging their duties without fear or favour.”
In a related development on Sunday, the CJN said the nation’s judiciary was under threat.
He spoke at a thanksgiving service held at the Methodist Church Nigeria, Abuja Diocese, Zone 3, Abuja.
At the church where he also mentioned the Uche Ekwunife’s case, the CJN thanked God for seeing him through his delayed emergence as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
He called on Nigerians to pray for the survival of the Judiciary, while lamenting that judicial officers in the country were being accused of corrupt practices without any evidence.
Justice Onnoghen was joined in the service by his family members, other Justices of the Supreme Court, politicians and lawyers.
He said, “I did not set out to be a Judge, but today I am a judge by divine intervention. It’s the Lord’s doing, mine is to follow. My prayer is that God should help me and should not let me down.”