By Emmanuel Mogbede
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mahmud Mohammed, has said that the seven judges, like all other persons, are entitled to a fair hearing as stipulated in Section 36 of the constitution.
The CJN was quoted as stating this in a letter which was sent to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja by Mr Timothy Adewale, SERAP Senior Staff Attorney.
The letter, dated Oct. 26, 2016, was signed by H. S. Sa’eed, Senior Special Assistant to the CJN.
Mohammed’s remark was in response to SERAP’s request that he as Chairman of the NJC, should take over the cases of the seven judges from the Department of State Service (DSS).
The CJN stated that there were clear constitutional provisions relating to the power of any individual, institution or arms of government which must be adhered to.
He said that the NJC could neither handover corrupt judges to law enforcement agencies for prosecution nor recover proceeds of corruption.
He also explained that the NJC could merely make actionable recommendations upon its findings as it had always done.
Mohammed said that in the exercise of its constitutional mandate, the NJC had enacted the Judicial Discipline Regulations, 2014.
This, he said, was to ensure that petitions are received, investigated and addressed as appropriate.
According to SERAP’s report, 64 judicial officers have been disciplined in the last five years.
The CJN maintained that “the seven Judges, like all other persons, are entitled to a fair hearing as stipulated in Section 36 of the constitution.
“As such, it will be presumptive and indeed pre-emptive to sanction the said judges without exhausting the proper procedure for their removal,” Mohammed stated.
He expressed delight with SERAP’s dedication to justice, fairness and justness, stressing that it was the collective responsibility of all to tackle any perceived challenge facing the Nigerian judiciary.
The CJN also stated that with the support of well-meaning Nigerians and SERAP, a transparent, fair and equitable justice system would be attained.
Mohammed urged SERAP to continue to strive to support and entrench good governance in the country.