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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, has said the nationâ€™s judiciary is under threat. Speaking at a recent church thanksgiving service held in Abuja, he said judiciary officers in the country were being accused of corrupt practices without given the chance of fair hearing. He, however, urged Nigerians to petition any judicial officer involved in any form of corruption or unprofessional conduct to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
From what the CJN said, and given the recent spate of arrests and trials involving judges and officials at the highest level of the Judiciary, there is indeed reason to believe the third arm of the government is under threat and facing endangerment, especially to their hallowed names and sterling reputations. As far back as this reporter can recall when he was covering the judiciary beat in Lagos back in 2003, judges are always regarded with awe and dread at the same time, and to see a judge in public – aside lectures or seminars – was a rare occurrence.
The threat the CJN mentioned focused specifically on wrong accusations against members of the Bench without any chance of fair hearing. Ironically, anti-corruption agencies in the country may not agree with the eminent jurist, because the former levelled some grievous allegations of corruption against some top judges and even arrested, detained and made them face trials, a few of which are subsisting. And a third set of people may also beg to differ, including those serving long jail terms for stealing goats because of hunger and poverty, while some others who siphoned billions from the national treasury are walking around freely in the corridors of power. The way it is now, this new threat goes beyond judges alone…fearful thought
– Abimbola Akosile