BBOG Letter To The CJN: Break The Corruption Chain In Nigeria
9th December 2015
The Chief Justice of Nigeria
Supreme Court Complex
BREAK THE CORRUPTION CHAIN IN NIGERIA
Today being the International Anticorruption Day, we wish to engage with your lordship as head of Nigeria’s judiciary arm of government and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), which exists to improve justice in Nigeria; and to improve society’s perception of justice, as well as ensure confidence in the dispensation of law.
2. Your lordship, corruption is killing us. Corruption is at the root of every problem we have in this country. It has eroded the quality of life of our citizens, it is perverting the rule of law, it has caused for terrorism and its attendant consequences to flourish, and so on. In fact, corruption is undermining the sovereignty of our nation Nigeria.
3. The judiciary however, is perceived as the weakest link in the war to break the chain of corruption. It is no news that some people who were found guilty of various crimes in Nigeria are walking freely without consequences. Others whom Nigerian courts had declared innocent admitted guilt of the same charges in foreign courts. This corruption chain can only be broken when there are consequences for actions, and this is only possible with a reformed and refocused judiciary. This will in no small measure boost citizens’ confidence in the justice sector.
4. Nigerian courts seem quick to grant bail to people standing trial on medical grounds, whereas we all saw that Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president stood trial on a stretcher. Nigeria seems to be the only country in the world where interlocutory appeals are allowed in criminal trials, thereby slowing the wheels of justice, and complicating otherwise straightforward matters. These are some issues that affect society’s perception of justice.
5. We are very concerned. Since 30th April, 2014 when our Movement began, we have been consistently demanding for accountability in Nigeria’s defence spending’s. Presently, emerging revelations we are all getting in the media as to what may have happened to the trillions of naira meant to equip our military to end terrorism, bring back our girls, and so on, may have simply been shared amongst friends with impunity. This, at the same time our patriotic, gallant troops were dying needlessly, mocked, and called ‘cowards’; court marshalled and sentenced to death for refusing to commit suicide by fighting terrorists with their bare hands and on empty stomachs. In the process, 20 000 lives have been lost, with an official count of 2.1 million displaced persons and living in sub-human conditions. Sir, would the offenders in this matter for instance be allowed to acquitted based on legal technicalities, and other such excuses?
6. The abduction of 276 girls from Government Secondary School Chibok on April 14th 2014, was as a result of governance failure in that those who should have speedily put all resources necessary for their rescue chose to act indifferently and focused on other issues when it mattered most. We have been following with keen interest the shocking allegations on how several billions meant for security and specifically for the counter-terrorism war were shared for extraneous activities by the former National Security Adviser (NSA). The consequence of these allegations where proven to be true is that the lives of our 219 girls and that of several thousands of other citizens either already killed, maimed or abducted were compromised by corruption. As a Movement which has advocated for OUR #ChibokGirls, other victims of Boko Haram terrorism and restoring peace to the North East zone, we are out to make sure that the Judiciary does the right thing by all the innocent victims of corruption in high places. The cases before our Judges must not be compromised by the corruption innuendoes that citizens are often regaled with when such matters end up with most of the accused “buying over” our Justice system.
7. We would like to request and implore your lordship to kindly use your good offices to among others:
I. Give practice directions to judges in respect of corruption trials
II. Ensure that corruption cases are given accelerated hearing, tried and completed expeditiously rather than granting bail. This, more so that it is mostly rich, powerful and politically exposed persons who get these bails, while many judges are wont to deny other citizens such privileges
III. Ensure that corrupt persons are punished to the full extent of the law, and be seen to have been done so
IV. Ensure that judges who bungle corruption cases, and crafty lawyers who seek to manipulate the courts to delay or derail the course of justice are punished to the full extent of the law.
8. We want the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC to feel the pulse of citizens as we cry out:
“NO MORE CORRUPTION IN THE JUDICIARY”,
“RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE COURTROOMS” and
“RESTORE EQUALITY OF ALL MEN AND WOMEN BEFORE THE LAW TO OUR LAND”.
#BringBackOurGirls and other citizens groups hereby on behalf of all other citizens of Nigeria, DEMAND :
“Speedy investigation, transparent, expeditious and conclusive prosecution of all cases especially related to the procurement of arms for Nigeria’s counter insurgency war as well as all other corruption cases before the courts of our land.”
We shall maintain a strong watching brief on the activities of the Judiciary going forward and mobilize citizens to protest any mishandling of corruption cases by our Judiciary. We shall name and shame according to the evidence available whenever a judge decides to place any other consideration above the dictates of the law in the dispensation of their duties to Nigerians and our country.
9. Thank you in anticipation of your usual kind understanding and cooperation.
For and on behalf of: #BringBackOurGirls
HADIZA BALA USMAN