A retiring justice of the Supreme Court, Musa Dattijo Muhammad, has berated his colleagues at the apex court following its controversial judgements.
He lamented how compromised the Supreme Court has become, saying it now houses justices who are accused of taking bribes and perversion of justice.
Dattijo who retired at 70 on October 27, 2023, made the scathing comment at a farewell ceremony held in his honour in Abuja on Friday.
He indicated he was not the only justice with an unflattering review of the judiciary while on the way out, citing a similar observation made by a former justice of the Court of Appeal, Oludotun Adefope-Okojie, who retired in May 2023 at 70.
Dattijo said Mrs Adefope-Okojie, while retiring, lamented that justices at the top levels of the Nigerian judiciary have failed to amend their corrupt way even as the public anger intensified.
“Public perceptions of the judiciary have over the years become witheringly scornful and monstrously critical. It has been in the public space that court officials and judges are easily bribed by litigants to obviate delays and or obtain favourable judgements.
“Pleas are expressed every day by the generality of the public begging the judiciary to be just, to be truthful, and to save the country from collapse,” he added.
While further citing Mrs Adefope-Okojie more extensively, the 70-year-old ex-Justice of the Supreme Court recalled other parts of his retired colleague’s observation of the court’s descent from grace.
“My question is whether the judiciary needs to be begged or cajoled? What is it that qualifies any person to bear that exalted name ‘Honourable Justice’? Is it not for him to administer justice without fear or favour?
“Unfortunately, it has been severely vilified with the Apex Court so denigrated and called by a social commentator as a voter gaggle of useless, purchasable judicial bandits.
“How did the judiciary get to this level? Why is the whole country on edge for fear of what the public regards as unpredictable judicial pronouncements? There must be a rethink and a hard reset.
“If the people we have sworn to defend have lost confidence, there is a problem that must be addressed,” Dattijo said.