President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over what he observed as allegations of the roles of some senior lawyers in attempts to corrupt judges and the judicial system.
Speaking while receiving the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the State House on Thursday in Abuja, he said:“We are convinced that corruption and impunity flourish when due process mechanisms are disregarded.
“We, however, expect a corresponding duty on the part of all professional bodies such as the NBA to ensure the highest forms of discipline among their members.”
The President requested the NBA to work with the government to avert the collapse of public confidence in the justice system of the country.
He warned that a collapse of public confidence in the justice system will have disastrous consequences for the entire country.
“Let me reiterate that the collapse of public confidence in the justice system will have disastrous effects on our democracy and will negatively affect the capacity of the legal profession to thrive and flourish in the country,” he said.
In making a request to the NBA to ensure the highest form of discipline among its members, President Buhari charged the body to ensure that all cases of indiscipline and corruption are tackled effectively.
President Buhari also gave assurances that his administration will continue to operate on a foundation of the Rule of Law.
He urged the members of the legal profession, whom he described as opinion builders in their various communities, to work for the public enlightenment of the citizenry, and to support the initiatives of government in sanitizing the public services, improving standards of public accountability and the insistence on the normal standards of judicial integrity.
He emphasized that government will continue to dwell on its programmes of a vigorous anti-corruption campaign; ensuring the recovery of looted national assets; prosecution of an effective and sustainable anti-terrorism war; and the institutionalization of law and order in all aspects of our national life.
President Buhari thanked the members of the NBA for their support so far, and urged them to do more in that regard.
He noted concerns raised by the NBA President and assured of his readiness to work with the bar association and the Judiciary to achieve needed reforms.
In his remarks, the President of the NBA, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmud, SAN, had commended President Buhari for his confidence in the members of the association, considering the number of lawyers in high places in the administration.
These included the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Attorney-General of Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and five other ministers as well as the Permanent Secretary in the State House, Jalal Arabi.
The NBA President also lauded the administration for its efforts, and expressed the Bar’s continued support in the war against corruption, terrorism and general insecurity as well as the ongoing work to institute good governance and revamp the economy.
He, however, brought to the attention of President Buhari NBA’s concerns on prisons’ congestion, the need for compliance with judicial decisions and the modus operandi of some of the anti-corruption agencies.