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Onnoghen: SANs Urge Buhari To Extend Corruption Probe To Other Judges

 
A group of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), under the aegis of Justice Reform Project (JRP), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to extend corruption probe to other judges, saying it should not end with the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
 
The JRP, made up of about 20 SANs, in a statement on Tuesday, said it is important for the President to fish out all other judges living above their legitimate means.
 
The group stated that extending the probe to other judges, will convince Nigerians that Onnoghen’s trial was not a politically-motivated witch-hunt and had no ethnic colouration.
 
It said the details of the allegations of financial mismanagement which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) levelled against Onnoghen in the petition it submitted to the National Judicial Council (NJC), and Onnoghen’s response to the allegations, “raised significant questions about the financial practices of the Nigerian judiciary and the various heads of courts.”
 
“Beyond Honourable Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, the JRP believes the revelations that have been made in the course of this affair necessitate that urgent steps be taken to identify and sanction all other Nigerian judicial officers who are found to possess inexplicable wealth that cannot be reconciled with their legitimate income or their asset declarations, two of the allegations made against Justice Onnoghen,” the statement read.
 
“These steps are necessary for a variety of reasons. First, to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and disabuse the notion that all judicial officers in Nigeria are corrupt and that justice is for sale.
 
“Second, to disabuse the notion that Justice W.SN. Onnoghen’s travails are a mere witch-hunt motivated by ethnic and political interests rather than the result of a genuine concern for sanitising and reforming the Nigerian judiciary.
 
“Third, to eliminate the suspicion that the executive arm of government is using the information it has access to, by virtue of its control over the apparatus of the state, to take selective action only against those judicial officers that fail to do its bidding.”
 
The SANs urged lawyers in the country and members of the public not to hesitate to forward to relevant regulatory agencies corruption information on any judge they know.
 
They argued that there was a need for the judiciary to regulate itself, so as forestall the Onnoghen experience in the future.
 
The group said it was closely monitoring unfolding developments and would at the appropriate time make more recommendations for the reform of the justice sector.
 
JA

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