Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari thursday in Abuja expressed concern over alleged moves by some senior lawyers to corrupt both judges and the country’s judicial system and pervert the course of justice.
Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed these feelings while receiving the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the State House.
The statement added that the president warned that loss of public confidence in the country’s justice system would have adverse effects on the entire country.
“Let me reiterate that the collapse of public confidence in the justice system will have disastrous effects on our democracy and will negatively affect the capacity of the legal profession to thrive and flourish in the country,” he was quoted as saying.
The statement also said Buhari told NBA to entrench the highest form of discipline in its members and ensure that all cases of indiscipline and corruption are tackled effectively. While assuring that his administration would continue to uphold the principles of rule of law, the statement also said Buhari tasked the group to work with the government to avert the collapse of public confidence in the justice system of the country.
“We are convinced that corruption and impunity flourish when due process mechanisms are disregarded. We, however, expect a corresponding duty on the part of all professional bodies such as the NBA to ensure the highest forms of discipline among their members,” the president was further quoted.
The statement added: “President urged the members of the legal profession, whom he described as opinion builders in their various communities, to work for the public enlightenment of the citizenry, and to support the initiatives of government in sanitising the public services, improving standards of public accountability and the insistence on the normal standards of judicial integrity.
“He emphasised that government will continue to dwell on its programmes of a vigorous anti-corruption campaign; ensuring the recovery of looted national assets; prosecution of an effective and sustainable anti-terrorism war; and the institutionalisation of law and order in all aspects of our national life.
“President Buhari thanked the members of the NBA for their support so far, and urged them to do more in that regard.
“He noted concerns raised by the NBA President and assured of his readiness to work with the bar association and the Judiciary to achieve needed reforms.”
Furthermore, the statement said the President of the NBA, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmud (SAN), commended Buhari for his confidence in members of the association in view of the number of lawyers given serving in his administration.
He listed them to include: the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Attorney-General of Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), five other ministers as well as the Permanent Secretary in the State House, Jalal Arabi.
“The NBA President also lauded the administration for its efforts, and expressed the Bar’s continued support in the war against corruption, terrorism and general insecurity as well as the ongoing work to institute good governance and revamp the economy.
“He, however, brought to the attention of President Buhari NBA’s concerns on prisons’ congestion, the need for compliance with judicial decisions and the modus operandi of some of the anti-corruption agencies,” the statement added.