THE National Judicial Council, NJC, has directed that judges participating in “sensitive and highly visible trials such as election petition proceedings” must declare their personal assets before and after conclusion of such cases.
To give effect to the directive, the council, yesterday, constituted a 10-man Judicial Ethics Committee with a mandate to review the code of conduct for judicial officers in the country.
According to the NJC, henceforth, judges entrusted with sensitive cases, “may be required to submit themselves to dedicated assets declaration.”
Also, allegations of misconduct against judicial officers or employees of the Judiciary shall not be leaked or published in the media.
It said the Revised Judicial Code of Conduct will contain, among other things, sanctions for persistent under-performance, inability to utilize time efficiently, low standard of judicial management and persistent failure by judges to comply with sitting requirements as well as, “provisions relating to the responsibility of judicial officers, so as to avoid inordinate and excessive length of proceedings causing delay in justice delivery.”
The legal body said it has mandated a Judicial Performance and Evaluation Committee to request various heads of courts to compile and submit regular statistics of ages of pending cases.
Kill corruption, spare Nigeria — SANs tell FG
Meanwhile, Chief Adekunle Oyesanya, SAN, and former Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, have applauded the Federal Government in its bid to tackle corruption in Nigeria, but warned that caution should be taken to prevent killing the country.
Speaking on the NJC claim that it did not receive petitions from the Department of State Service, DSS, before its raid on judges’ homes, Oyesanya said the Federal Government’s way of tackling corruption is like cutting off the head to stop a headache.
“If this government continues like this in their bid to kill corruption, at the end of the day, if they are not careful, they will kill this country. They are fighting a just cause through unjust means. Nobody is saying that government is wrong in tackling corruption. It (corruption) is so endemic that it goes from the top to the very bottom,” he said.
Oyesanya pointed out that corruption is a moving target in the country and requires keeping eyes on the ball to avoid losing it.
Also, Mamman, who is the Vice-Chancellor of Baze University, wondered why the NJC has not been using the investigative capability of the DSS when it had cause to investigate members of the bench and any collaborator at the bar.
“The question of whether NJC has received petitions from DSS or not is largely a matter of fact, which outsiders may not know. NJC has no such capabilities and no prosecutorial powers. So, the sensible thing to do is to use the discreet approach usually used by the DSS to generate information whenever there is a complaint bordering on criminal conduct against a judge.
“I believe with sufficient understanding, such information will be kept confidential in-so-far as no culpability is established. Both agencies are working for a common purpose which is to rid the country of criminality. It is therefore a surprise that there is this game of hide-and-seek between the two agencies.”