NJC faults NBS, UNODC’s corruption index, kicks over judges’ indictment

Walter-Onnoghen

The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Sunday rejected the index used by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to score the judiciary as the second most corrupt and bribe-takers in the country.

NJC is a creation of section 153 of the 1999 Constitution with powers to hire and fire erring judicial officers.

The Council admitted that though it still had some bad eggs within it but that the report of UNODC and NBS on its corruption status was nothing but speculative and disservice to empiricism.

In a statement signed by its Media Director, Mr. Soji Oye, the NJC said that while there was no denying the fact that the Council still had few bad eggs in office, as seen in every other arm of government, there were also many honest and hardworking judicial officers and magistrates making the judiciary and the country proud.

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UNODC and NBS had last Wednesday presented their research findings where Nigerian judiciary was named the second highest corrupt institution after the police.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of Nigerian Judiciary has been drawn to the report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in conjunction with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) titled “Corruption in Nigeria; Bribery: Public experience and response – 2017”, alleging that the judiciary is the second highest receiver of bribes in the country.

“The judiciary finds the conclusion of the organisations not only subjective but speculative. For instance, what is the percentage of judges caught receiving bribe out of a total number of 1,050 judges in both the federal and state judiciaries? “What is the percentage of magistrates caught taking bribe from an estimated total number of 4,000 in the country?

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“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.”

The statement 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 by 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 the appropriate security agencies for prosecution.”

It described as unfortunate the fact that the perceived orchestrated allegation was coming at a time the current Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was 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 roots in the country.

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The body, therefore, called on the general public to disregard the allegation as it is untrue, baseless, unfounded and a figment of the agencies’ imagination.