The Director-General, Institute of Law Research and Development of United Nations (ILAWDUN), Washington DC, USA, Prof. Cyprian Edward-Ekpo has called for review of election related judgments.
Prof. Cyprian Edward-Ekpo made this call in an open letter addressed to National Judicial Council on Friday.
He also implored President Bola Tinubu to investigate the alleged corruption in Nigerian judiciary.
According to the don, judges are the voices of sentencing, but their freedom of choice is limited by the rule of law, good conscience, principles of integrity and morality.
“Quite appalling, today’s role of the Nigerian judiciary comprising the Judex and the Bar, has been different. It has progressed to an international public ridicule and odium, and quite perilous.
“The law in Nigeria has lost a constructional role as a guidance and protector of a stable and democratic system – promoting a systemic mass toward desecration of temple of justice and state’s destruction.
“Beyond debates, this judo-moral crisis demands a critical-mass response, a new approach to stemming the cancerous system of corruption and intellectual poverty among judicial officers and court administrative staffers,’’ he said.
He also called on National Judicial Council to set up a committee of amicus and retired judges known for integrity and intellectual excellence, to review controversial judgments handed by several courts and tribunals.
According to him, the committee can receive reports/petitions of glaring disproportionate judgments, review them and invite the judges for questioning, especially where the basis of their judgment is found wanting.
“By the type of judgments being chunked out and reports that earlier fly around the social media, which even common sense may boldly say that they are against the weight of evidence and law, some people have asked if the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Bolna’an Donghan-Mensem may have practically constituted and piloted the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal panel as her own babies. It is public knowledge that Hon. Justice B. M. Basil, the daughter of President of Court of Appeal was in Akwa Ibom State Election Petition panel. While I see nothing wrong with that, on the court of public opinion, it raises a question of coincidence and integrity of such shocking judgments. Why? The tribunal could not have jettisoned the credible and uncontroverted evidence from INTERPOL and refused to attend to the question whether or not there was substantial regularity of the fraudulently procured order purportedly made on January 11, 2023, as pleaded by the APC, without cogent and judicious reasons. There is only one possible explanation in the mind of a reasonable and logical man. Such a question of coincidence and integrity of judgment is what the judiciary must try to avoid always. To maintain judicial integrity, justice must not always be done only, it must be seen to have been done by both the learned and laymen.”
“Two factors stand as causal elements to the problem of Nigerian judiciary. They include Intellectual poverty of some judges and Corruption.
“The process of which appointment of judges are made should be reviewed forthwith, due consideration to creating a mechanism for only the best brains and tested characters to be appointed into the Bench,’’ Edward-Ekpo noted.
He also appealed to Tinubu to consult with the National Assembly and present an Executive Bill to tackle judicial corruption and enhance integrity and independence of the judiciary within the framework of constitution.