The Chairperson of Panel 2 of the Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Kano, Justice Azinge on Tuesday raised the alarm that some lawyers were attempting to bribe judges in her team.
According to her, this was the second time a judge was complaining about how some lawyers prosecuting election matters before her tried to corrupt the system by offering bribes to her and her colleagues.
She stated in the open court on Tuesday that, “money is flying”, adding that “it’s being rumoured that a staff collected N10 million.”
However, she did not elaborate on if the staff who collected the bribe was in her court or another court.
She however warned that she would not take kindly to any further attempt to pervert the course of justice through corruption.
“In recent years, allegations of lawyers bribing judges cast shadows over Nigeria’s judicial system, a complex issue that is threatening to erode the public’s trust in the pursuit of justice.”
“While it is important to acknowledge that not all lawyers engage in unethical practices, the spectre of judicial corruption remains a concerning challenge that the Nigerian legal community must confront head-on.”
The PUNCH reports that the concept of lawyers bribing judges highlights the intersection of power, ethics, and accountability within the Nigerian legal landscape.
“Corruption within the judiciary undermines the very essence of a fair and impartial legal process, eroding the foundational principles upon which justice is built. The consequences are far-reaching, affecting individuals, communities, and the overall integrity of the rule of law.”
Reports of lawyers attempting to sway judicial decisions through illicit means underscore the need for comprehensive reforms.
The Nigerian legal fraternity is tasked with introspection and self-regulation to identify and address the root causes that may foster such unethical behaviour. Transparency, accountability, and commitment to upholding the rule of law are vital components in dismantling the culture of corruption, which threatens to undermine the credibility of the justice system.
“Efforts to combat judicial corruption should involve not only legal professionals but also civil society organisations, academia, and governmental bodies.
“Strengthening mechanisms for reporting and addressing allegations of corruption, ensuring the independence of the judiciary, and enhancing ethical training for lawyers are crucial steps in creating a more robust and trustworthy legal ecosystem.”
Contacted for his reaction over the allegation that some lawyers were attempting to bribe some EPT judges, the Kano State Nigeria Bar Association Chairman, S. S. Gezawa, said he read the report in an online newspaper that the Chairperson of the Kano EPT, Justice Azinge alleged that some lawyers were attempting to bribe some judges.
He added that rumour had it that one of the court officials received the sum of N10 million, as a bribe.
“I’ll say, it is what it is, it is an allegation, if any member of the EPT or my Lord, the Chairperson of the panel, Justice Azinge, has any allegation or proof of evidence of such, it can be formalised, a complaint can be channelled to the NBA or to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for necessary action against the erring lawyer”
“We should also remember that lawyers are not immune to prosecution.”
To this extent, the NBA boss argued that if there is any concrete evidence against any lawyer that he has erred, it can be reported to any of the Security agencies, especially the Anti-Corruption Agencies, the police, the EFCC or the ICPC, if it involves a staff or public servant.
“So long as it has not been formalised, we will see, as my lord said, it is rumours and allegations, that is what it is”, he added.