A group of protesters under the aegis of The Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations In Nigeria (FNGOI) on Wednesday marched on the nation’s Supreme Court in Abuja calling on the National Judicial Council to prevail upon all seven members of the bench accused of corruption to step down immediately.
The protesters numbering about 200 were however prevented by security operatives from entering the apex court’s premises.
The Supreme Court Complex houses the Office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed and the National Judicial Council (NJC) which the CJN presides over.
The protesters’ target according to the group’s convener was the National Judicial Council, the statutory regulatory body saddled with the responsibility of hiring and firing of erring judicial officers.
The protesters marched past the Federal high court headquarters very close to the Federal Ministry of Justice, with placards, singing and dancing.
Before they got to the high court, heavily armed policemen were on guard to prevent the protesters from entering the court.
They created a long traffic as they headed from the Federal high court towards the Three Arms Zone housing the Supreme Court Complex.
Led by the group’s chairman, Mr. Wole Badmus, the protesters brandished placards with various inscriptions such as, ‘Stop corruption before it stops you’; ‘Don’t get it twisted, judiciary is not on trial, only corrupt officials are;’ “Justices are to interpret the law, they are not empowered to interpret hard currencies;’ and ‘When a judge stuffs illicit cash in his shoes, water don pass water.’
An inscription on a placard also read, ‘In the struggle to salvage the judiciary, every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.
The group said that it wanted to make it clear that only those judges that have been accused of unethical conduct, and not the entire judicial arm of the government, is on trial.
The group accused the apex judicial body of trying to incite the masses against the government with the impression that the independence of the judiciary is under threat.
Nigeria’s secret police recently arrested seven judges for corruption and professional misconduct in different parts of the country.
Outrage about the way the arrests were conducted was expressed in certain quarters, with some calling them an affront to the judiciary.