A report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has shown that Nigeria’s Judiciary corruptly demanded, offered, and paid N9,457,650,000 (about $25 million) as bribe between 2018 and 2020 topping the country’s Corruption Index.
According to the corruption agency, the cases of outright demand and offer of bribes were “mostly linked to election matters” with 6 female judges reporting that they were offered N3.307 billion (about $9 million) while five male judges reported being offered N392.2 million (about $1.1 million).
These revelations were contained in a report: “Nigeria Corruption Index: Report of a pilot survey”, carried out by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, the research and training arm of the ICPC, and made available on Tuesday by the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye.
According to Owasanoye, a senior lawyer, the Nigeria Corruption Index(NCI) “indicates that both the public and private sectors are complicit in the high corruption levels in Nigeria.
“The survey also identifies the specific practices that are contributing to the corruption levels. This is the sort of information that stakeholders require to plan and evaluate their anti-corruption work.
“ICPC is committed to stopping corruption in Nigeria using all lawful means and capabilities, including deployment of knowledge and data for effective anti-corruption action.”
The report read in part: “Overall, the justice sector had the highest level of corruption with a score of 63. The level of corruption in the justice sector was heightened by stupendously high amounts of money offered as bribes to judges by lawyers handling high electoral and other political cases.
“A large percentage, 73 percent of justice sector respondents did not experience a situation of outright demand or offer of bribe. Nevertheless, it remains alarming that 16 percent of respondents had experienced such blatant demands or offers of bribes.
“Follow up discussions indicated that the cases of outright demand and offer of bribes are mostly linked to election matters.
“Money involved in the high-level corruption in this sector was categorized into money demanded, offered or paid. Demands are made by court officials including judges, while bribery offers and payments are made by lawyers or litigants.
“The total amount of money reported by the Justice sector respondents as corruptly demanded, offered and paid between 2018 and 2020 was N9,457, 650,000.00 (N9.457 billion).
“78 respondents constituting 8.7 percent of all justice sector respondents reported offers or payments of bribes to influence the judicial process. Out of the 78 justice sector respondents that reported amounts of money offered or paid, 63 were lawyers. This number makes up 9.9 percent of all lawyers surveyed in the justice sector. The 63 lawyers that reported payments were mostly male being 69.8 percent, while their female colleagues constituted 30.2 percent of that population.
“In all, the total amount of money reported by lawyers was N5,733,986,000.00 (N5.733billion). The amount reported by female lawyers was N918,045,000 (N918million) while male lawyers reported N4,815,941,000 (N4.815billion).
“The amount of money offered to judges was next in volume to payments made by lawyers. In all, N3,699,664,000 (N3.699billion) was reported by 11, that is 8.9 percent of the 123 judges surveyed. 6 (54.5 percent) out of the judges that reported the offers were female, while 5 (45.5 percent) were male.
“The total reported by the six(6) female judges was N3,307,444,000 while the five (5) male judges reported N392,220,000.00. These amounts made up 34.97 percent and 4.15 percent respectively of the total amount reported by justice sector respondents. Judges reported 39.12 percent of the bribes offered and paid by justice sector respondents.
“The court staff reported the lowest amount of money offered as bribe to influence the outcome of a judicial process. The total amount of money reported by court staff was N24,000,000…”
The corruption agency also noted the alteration of court documents as part of the corruption in the Judiciary.
The report said: “Grand corruption in the justice sector also manifests in the form of fraudulent alteration of court documents. In the experience of justice sector respondents, court staff are most responsible for this corrupt practice.”
By Abel Ejikeme