Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has berated the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and other judicial officers for attending a private dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa on Thursday.
Effiong said on social media that the act was in contravention of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers.
He further stated that it was not morally right for Buhari to be hosting judges to social events when an election petition is pending against him.
The lawyer noted that Rule 1 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2016 states that judges must avoid gatherings that could appear to members of the public that they have been compromised.
He said, “Rule 1.4 states: The Judge must be sensitive to the need to avoid contacts that may lead people to speculate that there is a special relationship between him and someone whom the judge may be tempted to favour in some way in the course of his judicial duties.
“1.5 states: A judicial officer must avoid social relationships that are improper or may give rise to an appearance of impropriety or that may cast doubt on the ability of a judicial officer to decide cases impartially.”
Effiong said propriety and the appearance of propriety, both professional and personal, are essential elements of a judge’s life as members of the public expect a high standard of conduct from them.
He said whenever a judge is invited to a gathering, he or she must ask: “How might this look in the eyes of the public?”
The lawyer said Justice Muhammad, who will most likely handle the election petition against Buhari must not leave room for doubt.
Effiong added, “It is in Nigeria that intellectuals defend the madness and impropriety of politicians with so much Passion.
“When you have the head of the judicial arm, dining with a President who has publicly asserted his disdain for the rule of law, a President who has a petition challenging his election before the courts, at a time that the judiciary is plagued by a crisis of confidence, and you still come here and insult me over my harmless observation, is there hope for the future of Nigeria?