An estimated N9.4 billion was exchanged in a bribe-for-judgement scheme in Nigeria’s judicial sector between 2018 and 2020, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has said in a new report.
The report said lawyers were mostly responsible for offering bribes for favourable judgements mostly in electoral and political matters.
The report entitled, ‘Nigeria Corruption Index: Report of a pilot survey’, measured the activities of corruption in four sectors, including the executive, legislature, the judiciary, and the private business enterprise.
The methodology was experienced-based rather than perception-related questions of corruption, as measured from a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing “Absolutely not corrupt and 100 indicating “Absolutely Corrupt”.
The index also featured data collection on corrupt practices based on monetary and non-monetary offers from personnel of government Ministries Department and Agencies MDA’s who took part in the survey.
Of the 901 respondents in the justice sector, 638 making 70.81 per cent were lawyers. Judges were
124 judges or 13.76 per cent, and 25 respondents at 2.77 per cent were court staffs (clerks and registers).
In all, there were reported experiences of being corruptly paid, demanded, or offered bribes up to N9.457 billion in the entire justice sector between 2018 and 2020.
It added that the remaining 114 respondents or 12.65 per cent of the 901 respondents in the justice sector, did not indicate their roles.
“The money involved in the high-level corruption in this sector was categorised into money demanded, offered or paid. Demands are made by court officials including judges, while bribery offers and payment are made by lawyers and litigants,” the report said.
“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).”
The survey added that about 78 of the 901 justice sector respondents reported experiencing offers or payment of bribes to the influence judicial process.
Of that number, 63 respondents were lawyers surveyed to have paid or offered N5.77 billion as a bribe for a favourable judgement.
Of the 63 lawyers respondents, female lawyers paid or offered N918 million as bribes, while their male counterparts paid or offered N4.815 billion as a bribe to influence a judgement.
“These amounts made up 9.71 per cent and 50.92 per cent respectively of the total amount reported by justice sector respondents. Lawyers reported 60.63 per cent of the bribes offered and paid by justice sector respondents,” the report said.
Eleven out of the 123 judges surveyed, reported experiencing offers or payment of N3.307 billion and N392.3 million as a bribe.
The ICPC report surveyed 399 MDA respondents – of which 26 or 6.51 per cent reported their MDA’s corruptly paid a total of N86 million for legislative oversight visit.
According to the report, about 52 per cent of the MDAs respondents said they provided hotel accommodations to facilitate legislative oversight, and 48 per cent agreed facilitated legislative visit through means of transportation.
Also, 35 and 27 per cent MDA respondents said they facilitated legislative oversight visit through recruitment slots, entertainment, gift and cash payment respectively.
“The most prevalent modalities of facilitating oversight visits are provision are hotel accommodations and outright cash payment. In the experience of MDA personnel, other forms of gratification applied in facilitating legislative oversight visit including the provision of recruitment slots, creation of job vacancies, entertainment and gifts,” it said.
The ICPC said while the code of conduct for public officers prohibits requesting or accepting any property or any benefit on account of anything done by a public official, about 38 of the 399 MDA respondents at 9.5 per cent received a total of N3 million as a gift for contract-related work.