Paul Usoro, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says judges in the country are afraid to perform their duties as expected due to fear and intimidation from the executive arm of government.
He spoke while delivering an address at the association’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which held at the NBA secretariat in Abuja, on Thursday.
Usoro also spoke about the high level of insecurity and poor state of the rule of law in the country.
He expressed worry over the “intimidation of judges by members of the executive arm and security operatives”, saying that judges now “operate under an oppressive and pervasive climate of fear and insecurity.”
“Our Jjudges are threatened, intimidated and blackmailed mostly by the executive arms of government and their agencies both at the federal and state levels,” he said.
“Our judges cannot deliver justice under a climate of fear and intimidation. Justice thrives where and when there is an independent judiciary. There can be no such independence when there is no security of tenure for our Judges. There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are intimidated, threatened and blackmailed by state agencies and their officials.
“There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are actively coerced by state officials to think and reason only in the manner that those officials and, presumably, government want them to think.”
The senior advocate of Nigeria also lamented over how some members of the association were victims of the high rate of insecurity in the country.
“My dear colleagues, as you would observe, I have given you three illustrative instances of the insecurity that pervades our land from the three NBA Nigerian Zones – East, West and North – and that, by itself, makes the point that no part of our country is safe,” he said.
“No region is safe, and no tribe is safe. No one indeed is safe. And yet, we have governments in place, at the federal, state and local government levels and the primary business of governments is the protection of lives and property. Indeed, without security of lives and property, everything else grinds to a halt.”
He called on the federal government to address the security challenges in the country and urged public officials to adhere to the rule of law.