The current judicial crisis could have been avoided. First this is an administrative blunder. It is surprising that those responsible for making erroneous pay outs of the housing allowances to the judges are seemingly not facing any disciplinary action. Yet these are the ones who should have been vigilant enough to do annual or regular audits to ensure that they paid only those that deserved to be paid and that such are paid what is correctly agreed or necessary. The Administration of Justice’s internal audit systems should have picked this up. And as an administrative oversight where problems are picked, they should have been administratively dealt with.
The original fault in this saga is the administrative system and those behind it. This does not absolve the Judges from their expected fiduciary duties and roles. They should not claim what is not theirs. They should of necessity have made the Administration’s senior executives aware about what they were seeing as a fault in the paying system. They ought to have a record of how and when they had demonstrated that they were getting more than they should. In none of the engagement between the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the concerned four judges there is no proof that they had been made aware of the anomaly and that they spurned any administrative resolution to this before the matter was reported to the police.
The sensitivity of the matter and the high and privileged position of the judiciary should have necessitated administrative resolution to this without escalating it to the executive. Judiciary should have acted in its best interests in this regard; to safeguard itself from executive control and intervention. As things stand now, the sanctity and soul of the judiciary has never in the history of this country been this compromised. The independence of the judiciary cannot easily be vouched upon, with the executive seemingly over involved. It is for this reason that we call for the restoration of sanctity in the judiciary. We call for the matter of the four judges to removed from call and for all parties to moot a win-win outcome. An out-of-court settlement is normal and well tested route that should be followed. This is important to safeguard and restore respectability in the Judiciary.
The four judges even as they received housing allowances wrongly, did not go out to steal the money. Someone put the money in their accounts. An arrangement should be made for them to return the money and they should be allowed to go back to the most important business of dispensing justice. Afterall statutory deductions as spelt out in the employment act clearly provide a guide on how erroneous payments and others due to the state may be withdran from from an employees salary without negotiations. Why was such a provision invoked instead of creating such a drama about a minor issue. We are tempted to suspect that those crying witchhunt may be vindicated.
For those who continue to peddle half truths claiming that the suspensions are not due to the allowance issue but rather the perceived misconduct contained in the grievance petition from the judges, we say that cannot be further form the truth. The root cause of the matter was triggered by the housing allowance issue. Afterall when did a grievance petition to an employee's superior warrant suspension from duty and an investigation on the complaining party. But then again why are only four judges suspended when about 12 signed the petition. It would be a sad day if it turns out to be true that the chief justice and the the executive are on a mission to remove liberal judges from the system.
The executive as an interested party, like all citizens, in the judiciary should not easily be called upon for what otherwise are mere administrative issues of this vital sector. The judiciary’s independence is something that should be protected at all costs. Any meddling in it is tantamount to treasonous acts. We all look up to it for justice against all and for all circumstances. It is for this reason that we urge for calm and insist that any point scoring against another will not resolve anything. This country is capable of rising above pettiness to addressing real issues to all emerge as winners. Let us protect the judiciary. We all need it.