Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega has raised the alarm saying some judges who are part of election tribunals sell judgement.
He said such judges who corruptly enrich themselves by selling judgments to the highest bidders, quickly retire to avoid being sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
Jega said this while delivering his lecture at Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch.
He said, “Some senior lawyers have become stupendously wealthy defending corrupt public officials, or handling electoral litigation for governorship and presidential candidates.
“Similarly, many judges have become notorious for corrupt enrichment for ‘cash and carry’ judgments, especially in election matters generally and in election tribunals, more specifically.
“Some election tribunal appointments were in the past widely said to have been made to senior judges about to retire, who allegedly ‘sold’ judgments, most likely to the highest bidders, enriched themselves and quickly retired to avoid being sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
“When lawyers use technicalities to subvert justice and ‘win’ cases without regard to perpetration of injustices, they basically help to undermine, rather than enhance national development, peaceful coexistence and security.
“They discard ethical and professional conduct, and put parochial and/or self-serving objectives in the forefront of their practices.”
He said though many might argue with those who see Nigeria as a failed state, it can be agreed that Nigeria is indeed failing.
This is as he called on the Nigeria Bar Association and the Body of Benchers to arrest the situation.
He said, “Specifically, on insecurity, a combination of militancy, insurgency, banditry, farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping for ransom, and ethno-religious or communal conflicts, with evident lack of competence and capacity to address these challenges, has unleashed generalised individual and collective apprehension, palpable insecurity and fatalistic resignation.
“Many citizens have been killed, maimed, raped, displaced, and properties stolen, confiscated and/or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been staying in Internally Displaced Persons camps for long, with the future of children compromised by malnutrition, diseases, and prolonged abandonment of schooling.
“In some areas of the country, notably North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, famine is imminent, as insurgents and/or bandits have obstructed farming and agrarian food production and destabilised the rural economy, with outright killing of whoever ventures out to their farms, or imposition heavy taxation on those allowed to farm.
“Indeed, things have been so bad for so long that, some scholars are beginning to perceive Nigeria now, perhaps exaggeratedly, as a ‘failed state.’”