The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says N9,457,650,000 was corruptly demanded, offered and paid as bribe in Nigeria’s justice sector between 2018 and 2020.
This was contained in a report entitled, ‘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.
According to the report, “bribe for judgment is one of the most egregious forms of grand corruption as it operates to undermine the very essence of judicial dispute resolution”.
In the report, lawyers were said to be most responsible for offering bribes for favourable judgment — with 27.17 percent. Litigants followed closely with 21.96 percent, court staff (clerks, registrars etc) 21.54 percent; judges 16.88 percent, and government MDAs 7.37 percent.
“A large percentage, 73% of justice sector respondents did not experience a situation of outright demand or offer of bribe. Nevertheless, it remains alarming that 16 per cent of respondents had experienced such blatant demands or offers of bribes,” the report said.
“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% 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% of all lawyers surveyed in the justice sector. The 63 lawyers that reported payments were mostly male being 69.8%, while their female colleagues constituted 30.2% of that population.
“In all, the total amount of money reported by lawyers was N5,733,986,000.00. The amount reported by female lawyers was N918,045,000 while male lawyers reported N4,815,941,000(N4.8billion).
“These amounts made up 9.71% and 50.92% respectively of the total amount reported by justice sector respondents. Lawyers reported 60.63% of the bribes offered and paid by justice sector respondents.
“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 per cent of the 123 judges surveyed. 6(54.5 per cent) out of the judges that reported the offers were female, while 5(45.5 per cent) were male.
“Although the females were just slightly more in number than the males, the females reported a substantially higher amount of money.
“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% and 4.15% respectively of the total amount reported by justice sector respondents. Judges reported 39.12% 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…”
Apart from “bribe for judgment”, another type of corruption identified in the judiciary by the ICPC is “fraudulent alterations of court documents”.
“In the experience of justice sector respondents, court staff are most responsible for this corrupt practice,” the report said.
“The combined forces of court staff and lawyers account for 70.2% of cases of fraudulent alteration of court documents.
”This is another situation where those who have a duty to implement a system are also the most responsible for disregarding it.”