The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday made a stunning revelation on how some lawyers, in their attempt to get the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), engage in the forgery of court judgments to qualify for nomination for the rank.
The CJN said the forged judgments were part of the requisite conditions submitted to the Legal Practitioners and Privileges Committee for scrutiny.
Onnoghen who spoke during the opening of the 2018/2019 new legal year of the Supreme Court and the inauguration of new Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Abuja said the case has been reported to the Police for action.
Although he did not make the names of the offending lawyers public, the CJN said they have been reported to Police and are currently under investigation, vowing that the culprits will be prosecuted if found culpable.
He stated: “I have to point out the fact that in the just concluded exercise, some applicants were found to have engaged in dishonourable conduct such as forgery of judgment, resulting in their being reported to the Police for investigation and possible prosecution.
We have to know that if one is not for any reason qualified to wear silk as a judicial officer, he cannot wear it as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
I would like at this point to thank the distinguished members of the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee tasked with this assignment of scrutinizing over 4,000 judgments, trial proceedings and publications, and at the same time conduct disciplinary proceedings on petitions received against Senior Advocates of Nigeria”.
The CJN urged those in power not to loss sight of the indispensable role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption, adding that the fight against corruption is not the responsibility of any particular arm of government but that of every citizen of Nigeria.
According to him, corruption or any other form of injustice thrives in a culture of impunity, and to carry out a successful campaign against corruption, Nigerians must fight with the culture of impunity, which is an attitudinal phenomenon.
Justice Onnoghen said, “If we allow and respect the rule of law, then there will be a drastic reduction in corruption and injustice. As a democracy, occasion is guided by the rule of law where the constitution is the grand norm.
And let me quickly add that there is no ambiguity as regards the role of the judiciary in our constitution”. He assured that the Supreme Court will continue to remain at the vanguard of the protection of democracy, human rights, rule of law and expeditious dispensation of justice.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), appealed to judges to brace up to challenges that would come their ways before, during and after the forthcoming general election.
Malami said as part of efforts to make the judiciary truly independent, President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the constitutional amendment, which now makes monies due to the judiciary in the annual budget to be paid directly to the Heads of courts as part of efforts to answer the needs of the judiciary.