From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has faulted the recent report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in conjunction with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) alleging that the judiciary is the second highest receiver of bribe in the country.
While calling on the public to disregard the report, the NJC described it as, not only subjective and speculative, but, also baseless, untrue and a figment of the agencies’ imagination.
In a statement by its Director of Information, Soji Oye, the NJC questioned the criteria used by the agencies in arriving at the conclusion contained in the report titled “Corruption in Nigeria; Bribery: Public Experience and Response – 2017.”
Meanwhile, the council has called on the public to forward written petitions against any judicial officer found soliciting or receiving bribe or otherwise engaging in conducts unbecoming of a judicial officer to the NJC for appropriate action.
The statement read: “The judiciary finds the conclusion of the organisations not only subjective, but speculative. There is no denial of the fact that there are few bad eggs in the judiciary, like in every other arm of government; at the same time, there are many honest and hardworking judicial officers and magistrates making the judiciary and the country proud.
The question that should agitate the minds of the people is the criteria used by UNODC and NBS to measure the level of bribe taking in the Judiciary to grade it as the second largest receiver of bribe. For instance, what is the percentage of judges caught receiving bribe out of a total of 1,059 judges in both the federal and state judiciaries?
What is the percentage of magistrates caught taking bribe from an estimated number of 4,000 in the country?
How many judges or magistrates have been arrested and/or prosecuted and convicted of corruption till date to deduce such conclusions? One then wonders the criteria used by the organisations to arrive at the conclusion.
It should be noted that the Judiciary is the only arm of government that has been investigating its Judicial officers and dealt appropriately with those found guilty by dismissal or removal from office, subject to approval for such recommendation from the President or the governor of a state as the case may be and publish such in electronic and print media for the consumption of the public.
Members of the general public are also aware that the NJC has been recommending judges found guilty of corrupt practices to appropriate security agencies for prosecution.
It is unfortunate that this orchestrated allegation is coming at a time the current Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman of the National Judicial Council, Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON, is making frantic efforts to stamp out corruption, restructure the judiciary and also give the Nigerian legal system a new lease of life for the rule of law to take its firm root.
in the country.
The Judiciary calls on the general public to disregard the allegation as it is untrue, baseless, unfounded and a figment of the agencies’ imagination.