Nigerian Judiciary Holds Head Up Despite Allegations of Corruption
Nigeria News examine the allegations of corruption against the judiciary.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has touched virtually every organ of government, including the fourth estate of the realm in its fight against corruption.
It has also received backlash from some stakeholders, who think that the approach of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption crusade is wrong.
It began with the arrest and prosecution of former public officers and politicians whose private accounts were filled with public funds.
Most of them, members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP that served in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC before various courts, detained in the custody of the anti-graft agency and consequently set free after they had agreed to pay back the looted funds.
Some of them forfeited their properties to the Federal Government and with the recent signing of repatriation treaties with some foreign governments, there is high hope that Nigeria government will take possession of many properties outside the country, which were acquired with looted funds by politicians and businessmen.
However, towards the end of 2016, the operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS raided the residence of some judges over allegation of bribery and corruption.
No fewer than six judges, including Supreme Court Justices were arrested by the DSS. It was discovered that they stashed local and foreign currencies at home.
They were alleged to have involved in numerous bribery scandals and yet they presided over cases of corruption.
After series of media attacks, the National Judicial Council was forced to suspend the judges, pending their discharge of the various allegations by the courts.
Expectedly, some of them were discharged and acquitted of the bribery and corruption cases and subsequently restored to the bench.
A very good example is Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He was charged together with his wife, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, the Head of Service, Lagos State Government. The wife was asked to step down as the HOS during the trials.
She had since been restored after the court had found her and the husband not guilty. The other judges are still facing the trials but there are indications that they will be discharged of the offence, which to members of the public has become a culture in the country’s judicial circle.
“They all take bribe. These ones are just not lucky,” a public analyst has said.
Barely two weeks ago, the National Bureau of Statistics released a report of corruption in Nigeria and revealed that the judiciary is the second most corrupt sector in Nigeria after the police.
The report nailed the judges, lawyers and judicial officers as bribe taker and giver who have bastardized the legal process and procedures in the country.
It said almost every judicial worker is involved in bribery and corruption within and outside the court. It makes justice system very slow and litigation very expensive for common man.
In defending the sector, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen condemned the NBS report, saying it is a false reflection of the judiciary.
He stated that the judiciary is not as corrupt as the NBS has painted it and that it is wrong for the bureau to have indicted the sector of corruption.
Also commenting, a legal practitioner, Frank Tietie said that the report is highly incorrect and unfair.
He said Nigerians must stop talking down on this country unnecessarily because; it ultimately affects the government and its rating by the outside world.
To him, the NBS report fails to analyse, which of the areas of the judiciary sector is corrupt. “This is because the real corruption comes from some certain agents that benefit from this negative unfounded impression that, the judiciary is corrupt,” he said.
He described the report as a security threat to the nation and will make people to easily lose confidence in judiciary.