Contrary to the position canvassed by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) that judges arrested for alleged corruption should be asked to resign pending the resolution of the matter, a senior lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has warned that such would lead to the total collapse of the judicial arm.
Olanipekun said though he was in support of the NBA president, Mr Mahmoud Abubakar, in his view that the bench should be rid of corruption, but the integrity of the judiciary will be greatly demeaned and undermined if such policy was implemented.
The senior lawyer was reacting to the position of the NBA, asking the National Judicial Council (NJC) to place the five federal and supreme Court judges arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS) on leave pending the time the issue would be resolved.
Speaking in Ikere Ekiti at the weekend after being conferred with the chieftaincy title of Asiwaju of Ikere land, Olanipekun said any president and governor accused of corruption should also step down, so that the policy can be implemented across board.
The lawyer promised to use his new status to unite all the warring factions in the town, particularly to find amicable resolution to the supremacy battle between Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Adejimi Adu and the Olukere of Ikere Ekiti, Oba Ganiyu Obasoyin.
“I support the idea that the judiciary must be rid of corruption, but I disagree with the NBA on this issue that judges accused of corruption should stop handling cases. This quickly suggests that politicians and petition writers will use the opportunity to continue to level allegations against judges and a time will come that there won’t be any judge on the bench to handle cases.
“If that will be the case, it has to cut across board, let any president, governor or political office holder accused of corruption also be asked to resign, for fairness, equity and justice.
“Some are saying that these Judges should be dealt with like every other common Nigerian; the fact remains that they are not ordinary Nigerians. President Muhamadu Buhari heads the executive, Bukola Saraki leads the Senate, Yakubu Dogara leads the House of Representatives and likewise governors of the states, these are not
ordinary Nigerians, just like these Judges, they head the judiciary.
“Even if the judges are ordinary Nigerians, they must enjoy rights to dignity and self respect as enshrined in the constitution. So, the NBA should not oversimplify the issue. If you say a Judge has been accused of corruption and should leave the bench, it is very dangerous to the judiciary.
“There are so many things to think of here, what of if the judges are not found guilty eventually and they are given a clean bill, it means we have prejudged them.
“I want to say with respect to the NBA president that I disagree with this stand and this is my humble opinion. But I support that corruption must not be allowed in the judiciary, because that arm is very crucial to our survival as a nation”, he said.