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Corruption in Nigerian judiciary is extensive – UNODC

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) says corruption is prevalent in the Nigerian judiciary.

A representative of the UNODC, Melissa Omene, said this on Friday at a judicial accountability event in Abuja.

The event was organised by Tapinitiative, a not-for-profit organisation

Speaking on a 2019 survey that was conducted by the UNODC and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Ms Omene said the survey “found that 20 per cent of those who had contact with the Nigerian judiciary were confronted with a request for the payment of a bribe.

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“Indeed, corruption in the Nigerian judiciary is extensive and both male and female judges are party to it.”

Giving a comparative analysis of the issue, a UNODC study on gender and corruption in 2020, disclosed that “male judges are far more likely to be involved in bribe-seeking conduct than their female colleagues.”

The study said corruption amongst judicial officers had eroded “public confidence in the judiciary.”

‘Why public trust in judiciary waning’
Weighing in on the quality of justice dispensation by Nigerian courts, a lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa, blamed lawyers and judges for the loss of public confidence in the judicial system.

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Mr Okutepa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former member of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), said the country is in a moral decay.

He decried the conduct of senior lawyers who compromise judges to get favourable verdicts.

“There is no accountability from the judiciary because the Nigerian society does not demand accountability,” he said.

The lawyer criticised the process of appointment of judges that is based on “rationing.”

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Mr Okutepa pointed out that recent judgements of the Supreme Court on crucial cases dealt a fatal blow to public confidence in the judiciary to do justice on matters that come before it.

“The Supreme Court has elevated the rules of court above constitutional provisions. There is no accountability from the Nigerian judiciary,” he submitted.

He lamented that the age-old principle of judicial precedent has been bastardised across the courts in Nigeria.

“You can see five different decisions of the Supreme Court on one issue that are inherently contradictory,” Mr Okutepa said, adding that “precedents are set based on who is before the court.”

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In the build-up to last year’s general elections, the Supreme Court delivered two separate judgements affirming the candidacy of Ahmad Lawan, a former Senate President, and Godswill Akpabio as authentic ticket-holders for the National Assembly elections in their respective states of Yobe and Akwa Ibom.

Messrs Lawan and Akpabio were presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress and could not have been aspirants at the same time for the parliamentary polls because of the latest provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

But the Supreme Court in 2022 declared them winners of the legislative primary elections of the APC, a development that drew outrage amongst close observers of the Nigerian judiciary.

Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State and minister under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, would later win the main election to become the current Senate President.

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Similarly, a panellist at the event, Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, said the judiciary missed an opportunity to bolster its public image when the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja last year rejected requests by the two leading opposition candidates – Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi – to have the court’s proceedings televised.

The panel, moderated by Lillian Okenwa, a journalist and lawyer, said nepotism was commonplace in judicial appointments.

But, a former judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Buba, rated Nigerian judges high in the discharge of their duties.

Delivering a keynote address on the topic, “Impact of judicial accountability on public trust in the legal system,” Mr Buba said Nigerian judges stood up to dictators and democratic leaders in their judicial functions.

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“…having regards to the conditions and environment of work, with all modesty, I say KUDOS to the Nigerian bar and the Nigerian bench, take away politics, where people differ on opinions and questions of law and both may be right, the Nigerian judiciary has given a very good account of itself,” Mr Buba said.

He explained that politicians “who cannot have their way undermine the independence of the Nigerian judiciary, not only starving it of funds but ensuring an erosion of independence of the judiciary and having friction and try to remove the chief judges unconstitutionally.”

“Nigerian judges are courageous, very, very courageous, they have dared the military, they have dared the political class, like every society, they have also dealt even with their colleagues who are found wanting.”

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Unite for Change: Nigerians Urged to Protest Peacefully to Avoid Economic and Social Fallout

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In light of the upcoming protests planned across Nigeria, we urge all citizens to engage in peaceful demonstrations. It is crucial to express our grievances and demand change without resorting to violence, which only exacerbates the issues we face as a nation.

Recent examples from around the world highlight the destructive outcomes of violent protests. In *France, the yellow vest protests, which began as peaceful demonstrations against fuel tax increases, escalated into violent clashes with police, resulting in significant property damage and injuries.

Similarly, in **Chile*, protests over economic inequality and living costs turned violent, leading to widespread destruction and a heavy-handed government response. These instances serve as a reminder that violence undermines the legitimacy of protests and often leads to severe repercussions for all involved.

In a recent interview with Victor Walsh Oluwatemi, the Chief Executive of the Africa Development Studies Centre (ADSC), he emphasized the importance of non-violent protests.

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“We must learn from the recent events in *Kenya*, where protests against rising living costs and economic hardships turned violent, resulting in severe economic disruptions and further strain on the country’s fragile economy,” Oluwatemi stated. “The violence not only led to loss of lives and property but also scared away investors, causing long-term damage to the nation’s economic prospects.”

We acknowledge the frustrations and hardships that many young Nigerians face. With high unemployment rates and limited opportunities, it is understandable why the youth might feel they have nothing to lose. However, resorting to violence is not the solution. Violence only leads to more suffering and delays the progress we seek.

“We understand the deep frustrations felt by our youth,” said Oluwatemi. “But history has shown us that non-violent movements can bring about significant and lasting change. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the Indian Independence Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi are prime examples of how peaceful protests can lead to meaningful and transformative outcomes.”

To ensure our message is heard and to bring about the change we desperately need, we must remain united in our commitment to non-violence. We urge community leaders, activists, and all citizens to advocate for peaceful protests and to discourage any form of violence. Let us stand together and show the world that we can demand justice and change without compromising our principles or endangering our communities.

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EXPOSED! How they tried to bribe Justice Nwosu-Iheme but she refused-Hon EJ

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A Federal Commissioner of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Honourable Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma has recounted how Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Supreme Court was kidnapped when she was ruling on a case that deals with electoral fraud which involved him as a candidate in an election.

He accused INEC of rigging the election, pointing out that the perpetrator was apprehended by the DSS.

He noted that they had brought the culprit before both a tribunal and a court. However, he stated that despite the evidence provided by the DSS, the tribunal’s chairman dismissed the report as inconsequential.

He further recounted how the appeal process unfolded, particularly highlighting the integrity of Justice Iheme Nwosu. He alleged that despite attempts to bribe her, Justice Nwosu remained steadfast and was subsequently kidnapped, an ordeal during which her police orderly and driver were tragically killed.

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He said in an interview with Channels TV, ”I contested for Election and my mandate was stolen. INEC rigged the election and the man who did it was caught by the DSS. The DSS did a fantastic investigation and they took the man to court, they took him to the tribunal.

The Chairman of the Tribunal said the DSS report is inconsequential. At the end of the day, we went to appeal Court and the Appeal Court Judge, Justice Iheme Nwosu who is a wonderful woman.

They tried to bribe Justice Nwosu but she refused and she was kidnapped, they killed her police orderly and her driver. She was in captive for over 30 days and today that woman is now the Justice of the Supreme Court. That is the kind of woman that should be celebrated in this country.”

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Speaker Abbas endorses MoU with UN CEDAW on women empowerment

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…says Reps open to partnership with CSOs, others on gender equality

By Gloria Ikibah

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, on Tuesday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Nigeria Member (OCEDAWNM) on legislative interventions on issues affecting women.

At the epoch ceremony, Speaker Abbas restated the commitment of the 10th House, under his leadership, to empowering women and ensuring gender equality in politics, governance and other spheres of life.

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Speaker Abbas pointed out that the MoU “uniquely attests to recognition of the need to marshal out diverse resources to achieve our 2024 International Women Development (IWD) themed: ‘Inspired Inclusion.’”

He said: “It is barely one week after my endorsement of a similar Parliamentary Development Programme for the 10th House sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for capacity building of members and staff of the House of Representatives.

“We are here again this afternoon to enter another working agreement with the United Nations group on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to promote the vision of our Legislative Agenda on inclusion and affirmative action for good governance.

“There is no better way to underscore the dedication of the House towards rebuilding the confidence of our people through pragmatic citizen’s engagement and capacity strengthening.”

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The Speaker said given the huge gender gaps in many sectors, there was the need for proactive measures to consolidate the 10th House Legislative Agenda’s vision of promoting inclusion and affirmative action for good governance, and promoting innovative and technology-based approaches to stimulate economic growth and ensure that no one is left behind in line with the SDG2030 & AU3063 Agendas.

He also said the measures should include harnessing existing opportunities for replicating good practice models in women’s peace and security, climate change management and renewable energy, and fin-tech, e-commerce and market access that could expand livelihoods and catalyse economic revival at the grassroots level.

He stressed the need to rebuild confidence in the people through pragmatic citizen engagement and capacity strengthening for key stakeholders as duty-bearers and rights holders.

Speaker Abbas added: “I urge our development partners, private Sector Companies and civil society associates to identify pillars in the partnership log frame where they can collaborate maximally to help realise concrete and transformative results

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“I look forward to receiving the out ones of your first contact meeting with details of priority interventions, strategic actions with timelines that will help utilize our eight-fold legislative mandate to advance our global and regional obligations in a way that responds to our local realities and contexts.

“The House will provide necessary legislative actions and support for the success of this partnership.”

The Speaker noted that the House recently had an ‘Open Week’ to engage citizens during which the members presented their one-year scorecard in office.

“Nigerians responded with great enthusiasm. The bottom-top approach intrinsic in the Open NASS Week and the unmatched performance of the House as meticulously articulated in the scorecard were greatly acknowledged by Nigerians who attended the Open Week and have largely enhanced our legislative image and heightened people’s confidence in the 10th House as a bastion of the common man,” he said.

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Speaker Abbas added that the House would “continue to engage our constituents because they are the reason we are here.”

The Vice-Chairperson, UN CEDAW, Madam Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, who led the OCEDAWNM and with whom the Speaker signed the MoU, commended Speaker Abbas and members of the House for their efforts towards gender equality and women empowerment so far, while urging them to implement the agreement towards achieving more results.

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