IMPACTS OF CORRUPTION IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA (A case study of judicial workers in Akwa Ibom state)
Nigeria was recently rated the thirty-fifth most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. Certain practices and experiences explain the perception of judiciary as a limiting factor in the country’s development process. Lack of clarity in juridical stances on effective sanctions and sustainable deterrence for corruption is perceived as systemic incentive that undermines the country’s democratic experience. This paper examined impacts of corruption in the judicial system in Nigeria. It evaluates the dialectics of judicial administration, state and development.
1.1 Background to the Study
It is the function of the judicial arm of government to interpret law and maintain law and order. However, it has taken another turn in Nigeria. Those that are supposed to fight against corruption are the ones that are involved in corruption cases here and there. It is no longer a surprise; it is part and parcel of our existence in the judicial arm of government and one can only hope that the situation will get better. A recent report from Global Corruption Barometer states that the judiciary in Nigeria is widely viewed as one of the most corrupt institutions. It has become quite “normal” for judicial officials to request for bribes so as to move cases along much faster. In fact, some of them ask for financial compensation from parties to various cases to enable them obtain a favourable ruling, or even to be granted bail. In a country where a disproportionate percentage of the citizenry can barely afford some of the basic necessities of life, legal costs are viewed as a deterrent to access to justice. The judicial arm of government has an important role to play in the impartial interpretation of the law and in keeping the other arms of government in check.
Consequently, the Judiciary has been made an unwilling accomplice in corruption in Nigeria. The judiciary no doubt has its internal challenges as indicated by the new and first female Chief Justice of the Federation during her screening at the Senate. The Chief Justice had indicated that in their earlier days at the Bench words were bonds while it was a taboo to call the integrity of a Judge to question as every Judge whether of the Lower Court or the Higher Court lived above board. The apex court justice noted with regret that allegations of corruption and bribery especially in exchange for grant of bail are almost becoming rampant. It is apparent that there is some commitment towards reversing the corrupt tendencies through appropriate sanctions on Judges found guilty of misconduct by the judiciary. The Chief Justice of Nigeria insists that judges need to reform themselves by shunning conduct that bring dishonor to the judiciary as an institution. Basic among acceptable conducts include living above bar; sitting promptly at 9am; being fair to litigants and other patrons of the courts; leading members of staff by example and promoting the image of the judiciary. With a seeming difficulty in determining what constitutes corruption, the illustration from the education sector may be instructive. It is considered that if you measure the amount of money budgeted for education at all the levels of government in the past 25 years and compare it to what is on ground, the difference is called corruption.
In an interview by Channels TV with a legal practitioner, Mr. John Oloyede, he gave more insight about corruption in the judiciary. He argued that though there are corrupt officials amongst the judges, clerks and bailiffs, about 90 per cent of them are actually clean. It just that the few ones that are bad tarnish the image of the very good ones who are more they are the silent majority. He also alleged that those engaged in the big money corruption as reported by the NBS, EFCC and UN Office for Drugs and Crimes are the secretaries and registrars adding that the average amount that is demanded is about $87 as compared to Customs, Police, Water Corporation and NEPA, where the average amount demanded is something like $80. So you are not talking about hundreds of millions. The aggregate of it is so tiny because the money is demanded by the support staff. He further noted that the few corrupt judges could either be complicit or innocent; a judge is so powerful that he can write a ruling and turn a night to day maintaining that it is only by appreciating the full extent of their powers that some of these corrupt judges will fully appreciate how much they are affecting the economic life of Nigerians.
There are high levels of corrupt practices going on and there are low level corrupt practices going on within the judiciary and known to everybody and that it is not about the judges alone. This study therefore sought to investigate the prevalence of corruption among the judiciary and give solutions on this will be totally eradicated in the country and give our dear country a good name that will always open the doors of opportunities to all the citizens just like in the case of America, United Kingdom and other nations in the world.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem with the Nigerian judiciary is that some dishonourable people not cut out to be judges got into the system and after that made it to the highest level of their judicial careers. Another major factor why the problem has festered is that many Nigerians do not want the truth to be told. Whoever dares to tell the truth is marked down for persecution. Members of the Bar often narrate horrific stories or tales of certain high-ranking judicial officers who act as couriers of bribe, but, they are never ready to come out with details. Such a person is engaged at a fee to reach out to judges in order to influence decisions in certain sensitive cases. Sometimes, the bribe they collect for and on behalf of such designated judges never come to their knowledge, not to talk of its being delivered to them. The researcher will be investigating on how to curb the menace of corruption in the judiciary.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) what is the prevalence of corruption in the judiciary in Nigeria?
ii) what are the reasons for corruption in the judicial system in Nigeria?
iii) what are the possible solutions for corruption in the judicial system in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the impacts of corruption in the judicial system on Nigeria’s image in an international level. The specific objectives are: to;
i) to survey prevalence of corruption in the judiciary in Nigeria
ii) to establish the reasons for corruption in the judicial system in Nigeria
iii) to assess out the possible solutions for corruption in the judicial system in Nigeria
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will help the will help to guide lawyers, judges, police and other arms that make up the judiciary to understand the negative effects of corruption on Nigeria in the international community. It will also serve as a guideline for the up and coming persons in the judicial arm of government.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study will cover all the bodies that make up the judicial arm of government in Nigeria. Findings from this study will contribute to the academic studies upon which further researcher can be made.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Apart from the time constraint, the researcher was faced with lack of capital to print as many as possible questionnaires and. Many respondents were not willing to respond to the questions as the researcher wanted.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Corruption: This is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit.
Judiciary: This is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes.
John Oloyede, (2014).Corruption is Part and Parcel of Nigerian Judiciary. Retrieved
from http//www.channelstv.,com on 18th of July, 2017.
Justice Ayo Salami, (2015). Eradicating Corruption in Nigerian Judiciary. Retrieved from
http//www.saharareporters.,com on the 17th of July, 2017.
Modern Corruption in Nigeria Judiciary- Case of Justice Ayo Salami and Justice Katsina
Alu. Retrieved on the 18th of July, 2017, from http//www.antigraft..org.