President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed worry about allegations of the role of some senior lawyers in attempts to corrupt judges and the judicial system.
This was even as the president assured that his administration will continue to operate on a foundation of the Rule of Law.
Buhari said this when he received the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
He asked the NBA to work with government to avert the collapse of public confidence in the country’s justice system.
“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.
“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 requested the NBA to ensure the highest form of discipline among its members and also, charged the body to ensure that all cases of indiscipline and corruption are tackled effectively.
The president urged the NBA, whom he described as opinion builders in their various communities, to work for the enlightenment of the citizenry, and to support the initiatives of government in sanitising the public services, improving standards of public accountability and the insistence on the normal standards of judicial integrity.
He reiterated that government will continue to dwell on its programmes of a vigorous anti-corruption campaign; ensure the recovery of looted national assets; prosecution of an effective and sustainable anti-terrorism war and institutionalisation of law and order in all sectors.
President Buhari noted concerns raised by the NBA President and assured of his readiness to work with them, and the Judiciary, to achieve needed reforms.
In his remarks, NBA President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmud, commended Buhari for his confidence in the members of the association, considering the number of lawyers in high places in the administration.
They are: Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Attorney-General of Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and five other ministers, as well as the Permanent Secretary in the State House, Jalal Arabi.
Mahmud raised NBA’s concerns on prisons’ congestion, the need for compliance with judicial decisions and the modus operandi of some of anti-corruption agencies.