The last may not have been heard of the alleged corrupt practices in the electoral justice system, as indications have emerged that a whopping N5.7 billion may have been paid by lawyers to secure favourable judgements for their clients.
In order to avoid direct contacts with some judges handling electoral petition matters, the said complicit lawyers offered the huge bribe sums through judicial officers’ spouses, religious and traditional rulers, among other influential individuals in the society.
The startling revelation was a product of investigative research by the Anti- Corruption Academy, an intellectual institute of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The report by the Academy is, no doubt, the latest domestic index on sectoral corruption in the country. According to PRNigeria, the latest report revealed that an estimated 9.9% of lawyers reported the experiences of offering different bribe sumsin connection with cases of interest, especially electoral matters. “However, the total amount reported by this relatively small group of lawyers amounted to N5,733,980.000,” it reported.
It further claimed that, out of 124 judges interviewed during the survey, 11 responded that they had, indeed, been offered bribes to influence the final outcomes of cases that were pending before them.
The report stated that inducements offered to the affected judicial officers were often done through spouses, parents, religious or traditional leaders, former or serving colleagues. It said the resort to these channels as intermediaries was to insulate themselves from the backlash of their corrupt practice. “While the judge may refuse the bribe without hesitation, there may be more than a little reluctance to report the incident because of the role played by the intermediary,” the report added. It noted that “the magnitude of assets and volume of money involved in grand corruption are such that just a few incidents can have disastrous consequences for the whole sector.”