Recently Chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Muktar tactically accused Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a highest cadre of lawyers in Nigeria, of abating crime through their support for corrupt people in the society. This corrupt people include Judges and corrupt individuals.
Being a woman, the present Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Aloma Muktar, seems to be more concerned about setting the standard right. She keeps raising issue of morality in the law profession and practice. This is actually commendable. Justice Aloma is said to be putting lots of process in place that will make the system work better. But as we know, one tree cannot make a tree. Coming to the real issue under discussion, corruption, it is obviuos wherever we find human being, there will be an element of corruption. Corruption is everywhere. The only difference is the degree. This degree of corruption is often seen in the way citizens see and react to it, level of citizen awareness of their rights as well as how strong institutions within the systems are.
In countries where the institutions are weak and people are more powerful, the level of corruption is always very high. With Nigeria situation and this obtains in most Africa countries, many institutions are very weak while there are several great policies. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria while appearing on an international media did says ’stealing is not corruption’. The implication here is that anyone that is dishonest, fraud, bribes, sleazes is not corrupt. With this mindset from the President of largest black people in Africa, communicated to the world, one can only hope there will be a better way of convincing the next generation to stand for what is upright and true.
While we want to fight corruption, we have established many anti-corruption Agencies in a bid to proof to the world we are serious about fighting corruption headlong. There are many other issues which will make all efforts to look like a child play. Fighting corruption will be a hopeless journey as long as we have the following situations.
Lawyers who indirectly defend crime: while everyone is considered or presumed innocent until the law court say s so, many lawyers have no moral code guiding what they will defend or not. Having a moral code will prevent a lawyer to turn down a case which clearly shows a flagrant abuse of office, position to acquire ill gotten Public fund. But hey, many will argue why are they are trained to do? Come to think of it, what is morality? Many will argue it is broad. What a society calls amoral may be a good moral issue in another. But the bottomline here is the issue of conscience.
Judges selection process: many also say corruption may be a lost battle if the judges and other judicial officials like court Registrars’ selection process is not based on merit but on political, ethnic lineage. If quality, character , competence is not the watchword, there is no way we can fight and root out corruption in our society. A judge selected on affliations will always be indebted to his/her godfather. This also applies to selection and appointment of relevant security Agencies’ personnel.
Corrupt Judges: in addition to the above, according to Justice Aloma Muktar, Senior Advocates of Nigeria know and collide with corrupt judges who are known to them. As long as corrupt judges are still occupying the bench, corruption will remain with us.
Political leaders’ lifestyle: leaders are always being scrunised by the followers. When leaders are not living above board but perpertuate corruption, it will be difficult to enshrine corrupt free principle among the led. Recently Governor Adams Oshiomole in his response during World Pension Summit did say it is impossible for a honest Permanent Secretary to buy a decent house based on his/herr Salary. How come many have several houses and cars in and outside the Country?
Winning a case at all cost: there is also the issue of lawyers who want to win court cases by all means. This set of lawyers go the extra miles in corrupting the Judicial officials who are willing accomplice. This judicial malpractices must also be erased. Otherwise justice will always be perverted.
Society support: As long as society’s attitude and support for corrupt individuals continue, corruption will continue to eat deep into the society.The society, including the traditional rulers often throw caution into the winds. Traditional titles as well as exalted positions are given freely to people who demonstrate a high level of opulence with no one crosschecking the source.
Anormally in the Legal framework: Many of Nigeria as well as other Africa legal frameworks are outdated. There are several anormallies which require urgent attention. Some of these include where judgement cases on corruption related offences are delayed for years. There is also the case of plea bargaining where someone who stole Billions are allowed to return an insignificant percentage to be left off the hook of the law. Not that alone, many corrupt government officials enjoy immunity against known corrupt cases. With all these still part of the issue, Nigeria and Africa can forget the war on corruption.