The group also asked Ms Pinto to prevail on “the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to ask the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) to suspend the lawyer involved in the alleged payment of N225, 000 bribe in Nigeria, pending the completion of any investigation and/or final determination of any trial on the matter.”
The petition dated 19 February 2016 was signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.
“SERAP is concerned that despite these serious allegations of bribery and corruption, the National Judicial Council has failed and/or refused to suspend the judge involved pending any investigation and/or trial of the judge. Similarly, the Nigerian Bar Association has failed and/or refused to ask the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee to suspend the senior lawyer involved pending the final determination of the case against him.”
“SERAP is concerned that the allegations of bribery and corruption such as the alleged payment and receipt of N225, 000 threaten the very essence of the independence of the judiciary and the actors in the legal profession.”
“Such allegations also severely undermine the rule of law, the public’s confidence in the judiciary, raise the cost for judicial services because litigation is driven by corruption instead of by the legal process, discourage people from resorting to the formal justice system, and ultimately victimise the most disadvantaged sectors of the population who do not have the means to play by the informal rules set by a corrupt system.”
“The allegations also undermine fair competition and economic growth, as there is a clear correlation between the level of economic activity in a country and an effective judiciary combating corruption.”
“SERAP believes that the NJC and the NBA are in the best position to tackle judicial corruption and corruption within the legal profession, and to ensure the application of appropriate disciplinary measures in cases of bribery and corruption such as the alleged N225, 000 bribe highlighted above.”
“Indeed, both the NJC and the NBA have clear responsibilities to counter and combat all manifestations of judicial corruption and corruption within the legal profession. Therefore, the continuing failure by the NJC to suspend the judge involved, and the NBA to ask the LPDC to suspend the lawyer involved will continue to allow judicial corruption to grow, undermine the efforts of all other institutions of governance, and can lead to impunity.”
“SERAP notes that article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes the principle of equality of all persons before courts and tribunals and the guarantee of a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. However, the enjoyment of the right to a fair, effective and efficient administration of justice is impossible if the judiciary and the legal profession cannot act with integrity.”
Rickey Tarfa, a senior Nigerian lawyer, allegedly made phone contacts with Justice Mohammed Yunusa in a case before the judge.