Human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, has urged the National Judicial Council, NJC, to ensure that corrupt judges are not only sacked but are also made to face criminal prosecution.

In an interview he granted P.M.NEWS, Aturu stated that among other things “the removal of corrupt judges from their offices is not enough punishment for the criminal offence. They must also be prosecuted. Don’t forget that demanding or collecting a bribe is a crime in our relevant penal code or penal laws. So errant judges must be made to face criminal trials.”

He said “hopefully the shame and stigma that the affected judges will face after prosecution will deter others from engaging in corrupt practices.”

He cautioned the highest judicial administrative body to be discrete in handling disciplinary matters before it, so as to ensure fairness and prejudice against affected judges.

Aturu asked the NJC to be wary of politicians who may want to manipulate the system to settle personal scores against judges not favourable to them.

“That is not to say that somebody can just wake up and remove an innocent judge just because you want to deal with the fellow. I say this because our politicians have a way of bastardising any recommendation.  It is not beyond them to order the arrest of a judge simply because he gave a judgment against them,” he said.

In reference to Justice Thomas Naron, whom the NJC asked to be retired for compromising himself in the governorship petition tribunal in Osun State in 2007,  Aturu said:  “I don’t think it was tidy for the NJC to spend five years in dealing with a disciplinary issue before it, because that would encourage impunity.

“Many judges would think that they can commit malfeasances and nothing would happen, and if it would, they would have benefited from their corrupt acts.”

—Fola Ademosu