From the CourtPilot Law

Corruption Report: Judges, lawyers should fear God

Barrister AbdulGaniyu Bello is a former Secretary and present chairman of the Ilorin branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). Following his first degree in law from the Usman Dan Fodio, Sokoto in 1998, he was subsequently called to the bar in year 2000 after his graduation from the law school before proceeding to the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife for his Masters in 2010. In this interview with ACTING EDITOR, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, he talks about the recent corruption indictment of the legal sector by ICPC among other issues in the polity. Excerpts;
The Independence Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has come out to indict the judiciary as one of the most corrupt sectors in the country in a recent report. What is your take on this?
Well, on this issue with the index from 2018-2020, I believe we are all living witnesses to what is happening in our society and we know that some judges sell their judgment. But it is reducing now since the coming of this administration because we know what used to happen in the past. Politicians influence and even buy judgment. I can’t dispute the report because the body that revealed it, the ICPC in this instance now, has their facts which may not be known to us.
But how rampant do you think this issue has become in our judiciary?
It is a well known phenomenon in the judiciary and I just pray that judges should fear God. When talking about the judiciary, it is beyond the superior courts. It also includes the area, customary and magistrate courts and it is very rampant at these levels.
It takes two to tango and the judges are being offered such humongous bribe….
(Cuts in) The duties of the judges are most sacred and they are doing the work of God on earth who is the sole judge that will judge all of us. The greatest sin is perpetrating injustice and perverting justice in favour of someone that does not deserve it. This issue is a matter of moral and despite the offer of bribe; the conscience of the judges should control them. That is what I feel because it is equally dangerous to act based on certain influences and consideration to trade or sell justice.
The issue appears very rampant in election matters but of course we also hear of such stories in the lower court?
Although this is very rampant on election matters and we can easily understand the reason for such trend, other matters of corruption also happen in the lower courts as judges get peanuts to do whatever bidding they are influenced to do not minding their conscience or whatever happens.
But the lawyers are not exempted from the ugly trend, what can you say on this?
There is no doubt about that fact that lawyers are also involved among those that give bribes in the bid to influence judges to win cases; but will keep on saying it until there is change in the system and in our attitude to continue to seek to compromise justice. Despite this, we have seen and continue to see many judges and lawyers who have lived above board in resolve and resoluteness to always stand on the side of justice no matter the humongous amount involved and whose ox is gored. So if they can do it, why can’t others?

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