By; OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti.
Legal icon, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has expressed fears on the position canvassed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that arrested Judges for alleged corruption be asked to resign temporarily pending the resolution of the matter, saying the step, if taken will lead to collapse of the judicial arm of government in the country.
Although, Olanipekun said he is in support of the NBA’s President, Mr. Mahmoud Abubakar, in his view that the bench should be rid of corruption, but posited that the integrity of the judiciary will be greatly demeaned and undermined if such policy is implemented.
The eminent lawyer was reacting to the position of the NBA, asking the National Judicial Council (NJC) to place the five federal and supreme courts’ judges arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) to proceed on leave pending the time the issue will be resolved.
Speaking in his hometown, Ikere-Ekiti at the weekend after being conferred with the chieftaincy title of Asiwaju of Ikere land, Olanipekun said any president and governor accused of corruption should also step down, so that the policy can be implemented across board.
The ex-NBA President promised to use his new status to unite all the warring factions in the town, particularly to find amicable resolution to the supremacy battle between the Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Adejimi Adu and the Olukere of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Ganiyu Obasoyin.
“I support the idea that the judiciary must rid of corruption, but I disagree with the NBA on this issue that judges alleged of corruption should stop handling cases. This quickly suggests that politicians and petition writers will use the opportunity to continue to level allegations against judges and a time will come that there won’t be any judge on the bench to handle cases.
“If that will be the case, it has to cut across board, let any
president, governor or political office holder accused of corruption
also be asked to resign, for fairness, equity and justice.
“Some are saying that these Judges should be dealt with like every
other common Nigerian, the fact remains that they are not ordinary Nigerians. President Muhamadu Buhari heads the executive, Bukola Saraki leads the Senate, Yakubu Dogara leads the House of Representatives and likewise governors of the states, these are not ordinary Nigerians just like these Judges, they head the judiciary.
“Even if the judges are ordinary Nigerians, they must enjoy rights to dignity and self respect as enshrined in the constitution. So, the NBA should not oversimplify the issue. If you say a Judge has been accused of corruption and should leave the bench is very dangerous to the judiciary.
“There are so many things to think of here, what of if the judges are not found guilty eventually and they are given a clean bill,it means we have prejudged them.
“I want to say with respect to the NBA president that I disagree with this stand and this is my humble opinion. But I support that
corruption must not be allowed in the judiciary, because that arm is very crucial to our survival as a nation”, he said.
Lauding Ogoga for finding him worthy of the Chieftaincy honour, Olanipekun promised to redouble his efforts to the service of Ikere-Ekiti through robust scholarship scheme and offering of leadership at all levels.