Home News The Stench in the Judiciary calls for Serious Reforms: Femi Falana

The Stench in the Judiciary calls for Serious Reforms: Femi Falana

by Anita Ogona

The need to reform the Judiciary and pave way for unbiased Judiciary process and rid the Judiciary of Corrupt officials and litigants is still generating reactions.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has lamented over the corruption in the judiciary, calling for reforms to redeem the image of the third arm of government.

Falana also urged the media and civil society organizations to investigate and monitor the appointment of top judges in the country.

The human rights lawyer, who compared Nigeria’s judiciary to those of developed countries, said some corrupt lawyers were exploiting the system to frustrate cases against public officials.

He said, “If you steal money in China, it is public execution. Nigeria is the only country where you hire drummers and people wear Aso-ebi to court premises. There is nothing more contemptuous because you are challenging the state for charging you to court. Here, out of the money you have stolen, you get a bad lawyer who will adopt all manner of delay tactics to get the state frustrated from prosecuting you.

“(Adolphus) Wabara has been celebrating an end to his case after 14 years. You know what happened? Some senior lawyers filed some objections; frivolous objections that you know will be overruled.  So, when the objection is overruled, you file an appeal; interlocutory appeal for stay of proceedings. That case lasted for 14 years.

“Abacha’s son was charged with stealing N463bn. The case was in court for 14 years. In the case of Wabara, the two star witnesses died and the case could not go on. In the case of Abacha’s son, what was the objection? He said the immunity of his father should be extended to him. The Supreme Court said even if your father were still alive, he would have lost his immunity. But the objection was taken to court for 14 years. By the time they came back, the witnesses could no longer be found, the judge had been promoted, so you have to start de novo, and the case was withdrawn.

“Today in England, if you file a motion that is meant to delay the case, you are disciplined by the law society. But here, these are the lawyers that we are celebrating.

“The case of James Ibori; without a trial, he was discharged and acquitted. The judge carelessly forgot that the $15m seized from him when he wanted to bribe (former EFCC Chairman Nuhu) Ribadu was still there as an exhibit. He did not make any order on the money.

“When the same man got to England, he pleaded guilty. You know why he pleaded guilty, when the lawyers saw his defence, they told him it was a sham and they could not go on with the case. He asked if they could not file an appeal, and they told him, ‘We don’t do that here.’ They told him that if they went on and he got convicted, he would get the highest punishment. But that is not the real problem. They told him they were afraid they would also lose their licence to practice law because they would be charged for wasting the resources of her majesty’s court.”

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