Anti-corruption advocacy groups, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Federal Government over the recent clampdown on some judges alleged to be involved in some corrupt practices and said those who are opposed to the action were either hypocrites or equally corrupt minded.
At a press briefing in its Lagos headquarters, CACOL affirms through its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, that corruption in Nigeria has assumed a monstrous dimension requiring drastic measure to actually nip it in the bud.
Adeniran who spoke on the heels of condemnations emerging from some quarters over the illegality of the arrest of the Judges, posited that since the Judges are the last hope of common man, it behooves on the arm of government they represent, to purge itself of all corrupt tendencies.
The group is of the opinion that the need to adopt a holistic and drastic measure in approaching the issue of corruption in Nigeria is sacrosanct if the nation is really serious about wriggling itself away from the lingering corrupt practices and its attendant negative tendencies on the polity.
“Without mincing words, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL unequivocally assert that there is need for circumspection in approaching the arrest of the suspected corrupt Judges in order to be able to do an objective analysis of the whole situation.
All the hue and cry of anarchism, abuse of rule of law, discard of procedures, selective fight against corruption, betray the reality that some Nigerians claim they want real change or like some say, revolution, yet they fail to realize that achieving change necessitates taking drastic steps.
“This is based on the reality of the existence of a situation that has thrown up the need to take bold and daring steps to right the wrongs of the extant order. And unarguably, one of the things most Nigerians are united on is the fact that ‘corruption’ as a monstrous bane has impeded the development of the country for a long time. Arising from this, apparently, majority of Nigerians agree on the need to kill corruption before it kills the country!
“We assert also that, there cannot be halfway measures and undue pampering of corruption suspects whether they are Judges, lawyers, Presidents, Governors, legislators or whatever, as long as they are Nigerians they are bound by the so-called ‘rule of law’ of the country.
“It is either we want to collectively fight corruption and understand the consequences of confronting the monster or we do not! There is no doubt that the incurable corrupt elements reside in all the Arms of government and they perpetrate their sharp practices with bare-faced impunity, indeed corruption has been institutionalized in every aspect of the body polity,” the statement reads.
CACOL also justifies the operation of the men of the Department of State Security Service, DSS, noting that the manner with which the arrest of the Judges was carried out was in tune with the law and also not at variance with what obtained in other climes while struggling to combat corruption.
“The DSS has explained that what it was a ‘sting operation’ it carried out and historically no serious anti-corruption drive does not utilize that means when confronting corruption particularly where Judges are concerned. Generally, purging the Judiciary of corrupt Judges will almost always require undercover operations.
“In the history of the US in the efforts to fight corruption in its judiciary, most of the experience with undercover operations targeting corrupt judges arises from Operation Greylord, a federal investigation in the 80s into corruption in the trial courts of Chicago and surrounding Cook County that resulted in the conviction of 13 judges and some 80 lawyers and court staff for bribery and other corruption related crimes.
“Sting operations are not strange in the fight against corruption globally. Recently, in investigations in Ghana revealed 500 plus hours of video tapes showing High Court judges and lower court magistrates accepting payoffs to acquit defendants in cases ranging from robbery and murder to bribery itself. The government is taking forceful and responsible action to cleanse the critical state institution of corruption, in accordance with the Ghanaian Constitution.
“As in Ghana, the Chicago cases arose from secret tape recordings showing judges fixing cases for money. Like the Chicago judges caught on tape, some of those implicated in the Ghanaian scandal claim the taping violated the sanctity of the judicial chambers and evidence from them should therefore not be heard in any legal proceeding. Many in Ghana are urging that those who bribed their way out of a criminal case be re-tried before an honest judge.
“For those hammering that the DSS forcibly broke into the house of one of the judges. Section 149 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, envisaged that, it states as follows: “Where any building liable to be searched is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place, shall on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.”
“From the effect of Sections 9, 10, 12, 13 and 149 (2) of the ACJA the person executing a search warrant and or arrest warrant is empowered to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place” where unhindered access is denied upon demand. Obviously the need to break a door wouldn’t have arisen if unhindered access into the house of the affected judge had been availed,” CACOL stressed.