Today, I bring you the very strong views of two prominent Nigerians, Dr. Frederick Fasheun, Leader of the Odua Peoples Congress and Barrister William Ballantyne, Principal Partner of City Solicitors, which is a really a damning verdict on the ongoing presidency-sponsored purging of the Judiciary that, many have come to describe as a Tsunami in the Nigerian Judiciary. It is must read.
Barrister William Ballantyne
Well this the first time we are observing this kind of sting operation. In our criminal proceeding, and our constitution in section 36, sub section 5 talks about presumption of innocence, so for now we not to judge whether the judges are corrupt or not.
It is the mode of arrest that is the issue. And as to the question of the fact that the law was signed former president Goodluck jonathan, that does not support the method applied to fight corruption in this instance. Why would anyone say the judges are corrupt, when our law presumes them innocent?
How can you just arrest someone and immediately conclude that he is corrupt without trial yet? I expect our judges to be much more enlightened than that. How can some of our colleagues support such wrong attitude to dealing with corruption?
However, it comes back to our judges who most times ignore the issue of procedure, when it is mentioned in court. Most of them rule in favor of wrong procedures in their courts. Under our evidence act, illegally obtained evidence is admissible. This is an aspect of our laws that we must reconsider. In more civilized polity such kind of procedures are not allowed.
Dr. Frederick Fasheun
In a democracy, the judiciary is the most stable arm of government for obvious reasons. While the two other arms of the government, the legislature and the executive, have a celling on their tenure, the judiciary is career-driven and enjoy tenure longevity. Those serving in the judiciary are apolitical and the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. This is why it is disheartening, heart-rending and troubling that the judiciary has been placed under this brazen assault and it forebodes danger for the nation’s democracy. Today, it is rather unfortunate that president Muhammadu Buhari represents the worst threat on our nation’s democracy.
These current events have vindicated my stand when I expressed skepticism on the Buhari presidential candidacy in 2015. When, in the building to the elections, his spin doctors told the world that General Buhari was a born-again Democrat, we warned Nigerians that this leopard cannot change his spot. Buhari has the trappings of an unrepentant bigot and dictator. First he moved against PDP, then he moved against the Legislature, now it is the judiciary that been placed under siege and attack.
And today, Buhari has turned his attack dogs loose on the judiciary. From time immemorial, General Buhari appears to nurse an intrinsic hatred and distrust for the Judiciary. Nigerians must recall that back in his first coming as Military Head of State in 1983,General Muhammadu Buhari suspended the courts and established tribunals headed by military officers to try cases involving politicians.
This despotic creation led to the bastardisation of the process and dispensation of justice by these judicially-unlearned officers, and led to the handing down of tragically laughable verdicts. Lawyers boycotted the tribunals and refused to defend those arraigned under that draconian atmosphere. We urge the president not to take the country back to the madness of his first coming.”
For those cheering this desecration of the judiciary, let me also share this quote, which Dr. Fashuen concluded with:
First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out-Because I was not a socialist
Then they for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-Because I said I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.”