SERAP slams composition of corruption trials monitoring committee
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has criticised the composition of the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee by the CJN.
SERAP made the criticism on Tuesday in Abuja, in an open letter to Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) which was signed by Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, its Executive Director.
The group urged the CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to urgently revisit and review the composition of the committee.
Onnoghen had on Sept. 28 named Salami, a former President of the Court of Appeal, as head of the15-member corruption and financial crime cases trial monitoring committee.
SERAP said that the review was necessary to remove the risk of apparent and potential conflicts between the work of the committee and the private practice of some of its members.
According to the organisation, for the Salami-led committee to perform its tasks effectively and with propriety, it should be composed entirely of members of the bench.
It said that members of the committee should be drawn from available pool of brilliant and incorruptible retired judges.
The 15-member committee is made of judges and practising lawyers, among others.
SERAP said, “these members are handling high-profile cases of corruption involving politically exposed persons (PEPs).”
The organisation said that the appointment of members of the committee should be based on their demonstrable commitment to the fight against corruption.
It also recommended a thorough scrutiny of the candidates’ past record of legal practice to eliminate all possibilities of bias and conflict of interest.
It noted that this would ensure accountability and help to keep the independence of the judiciary intact and uncompromised.
“SERAP believes that until the issues raised are satisfactorily addressed, Nigerians will have doubts in their mind as to the ability of the Salami committee to discharge its mandates effectively,” it said.
The organization stressed the importance for the committee to function in a way that could preserve judicial independence, provide information for judges to improve their performance, and increase the public’s confidence in courts.
According to it, rather than promoting judicial accountability, the committee as presently constituted, could be used to interfere with the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.