According to reports, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) appeared to have shifted from its earlier position on the arrest of judges recently by the Department of State Services (DSS) over alleged corrupt practices.
Speaking on Thursday during the valedictory session in honour of Justice Sotonye Denton West, Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), noted that in order to safeguard the sanctity of the judiciary, it has become necessary for the judges involved in the ongoing investigations to excuse themselves from further judicial functions.
He also suggested that they may proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established.
He said: “It appears to the NBA that it is extremely important that the NJC takes very urgent steps to safeguard the public image and sanctity of the courts.
“We therefore strongly recommend that, without prejudice to the innocence or otherwise of the judges involved in the ongoing investigations, they should be required to recuse themselves from further judicial functions or required to proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.
“We believe this will be necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of judicial processes that may involve the judges concerned and safeguard the public image of the institution.
The NBA boss further said that it has set up a Task Force after its meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, as well as past and serving leaders of the bar, to urgently review the current developments and come up with clear specific recommendations on how best to clean up the nation’s judiciary and rebuild confidence of Nigerians.
He added that the report is expected to be out in two weeks.
The DSS had on October 7, arrested Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court; Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and Justice Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division.