Watching and listening to young and senior Lawyers alike, make cases for the Judges whose homes were raided a fortnight ago, has been one gut-wrenching, cringe-worthy experience.
Agreed, the manner deployed by the Department of State Services (DSS) as it picked up one Judge after another in the dead of the night may have been crude and gestapo-like, members of the law profession in Nigeria made it sound like Lawyers or Judges are above the laws of the land and can do no wrong.
To read opinions on social media from some of these 'learned friends', members of the legal profession should not be asked questions even if caught with their fingers submerged in the cookie jar.
This writer has been subjected to tons of gibberish couched as OP-EDs, from Lawyers without a scintilla of shame or morality left in their bones.
Little wonder that for this bunch, Justice has always been up for sale.
The school of thought which breeds these Lawyers, should be condemned by all men of good conscience.
It is trite that if we have to root out pervasive corruption in the system, the bar is as good a place as any to begin.
For a while, it looked to most like all hope was lost, as senior Lawyers fell over themselves in defence of the accused Judges.
Until last night when the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) saved the planet.
Speaking during a valedictory session in honour of Justice Sotonye Denton West, NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), noted that in order to safeguard the sanctity of the judiciary, the affected Judges have to excuse themselves from the courts.
Two Supreme Court Justices in Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, Justices Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja, Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court, Muazu Pindiga of Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal in Ilorin and I.A Umezulike who is the Chief Judge of Enugu State, have all been accused of receiving huge sums of money from an equally corrupt political class, in exchange for favourable judgments.
These are grave allegations.
And until they have been exonerated of these charges, these man have no place in our courts.
Said NBA President Mahmoud: “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”.
Mahmoud was right on the money here.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) which is constitutionally empowered to discipline Judges, lost this writer's respect in the wake of the raids. You can actually condemn an act while insisting your members must remain above board. The NJC carried on like all of the Judges were candidates for Sainthood.
To protect the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary, the NBA is taking a different tack. It is recommending that affected Judges recuse themselves from further judicial functions or proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established.
Strong, commonsense recommendations.
This is hoping that the NJC redeems itself by listening to the NBA, not least for the good of the State and our nascent democracy.