Nigerian government vows to jail corrupt judges, seize stolen assets

Abubakar Malami
Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami PHOTO: Daily Trust

Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, said in Lagos on Tuesday that judges found to have corruptly enriched themselves would be prosecuted, jailed and would lose to the state any asset they acquired with such stolen funds.

Mr. Malami, who was the special guest at the launch of a report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) titled, “Go home and sin no more: Corrupt judges escaping from justice in Nigeria”, said judges should be beyond reproach.

“Considering the pivotal role that they play in the administration of justice, it is important to ensure that Nigerian judges, like the proverbial Caesar’s wife, are beyond reproach or even suspicion. Gone are the days when corrupt judges escaped from justice in Nigeria!”

“I can assure you today that in line with the cardinal agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation shall ensure that every appearance of corruption in the judiciary is dealt among other measures through criminal prosecution and forfeiture to the State of illegally acquired assets,” he said.

The minister was represented at the launch by his senior special assistant, Abiodun Aikomo.

He added that the Buhari administration would not tolerate judicial impunity and would do everything within the law to ensure that judicial accountability in “a corruption-free judiciary which is both independent and impartial”.

“The judiciary’s one and only mandate should be to deliver justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The world over, the rule of law, and separation of powers which are inseparable components of a democratic government, presupposes the existence of an independent and impartial judiciary,” he said.

He said judges found to have been corrupt were removed in the past by the National Judicial Council.

“In reality, on a comparison between the widely reported cases of corruption in the Judiciary vis-à-vis the records of judicial officers who have actually been punished therefore, it would appear as if Nigerian judges enjoy total immunity from prosecution for corruption (and allied offences), whereas judges are not immune from discipline for any misdeed let alone for corruption,” he said.

SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, who welcomed Mr. Malami’s commitment, said corrupt judges are more dangerous to the society than corrupt politicians because a corrupt judiciary denies both victims of corruption and those accused of corruption access to an independent, impartial and fair adjudication process.

Mr. Mumuni explained that the report advocated the prosecution of corrupt judges; referral by the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Judicial Council of all cases of judicial corruption to appropriate anti-corruption agencies; publication and auditing of spending by the judiciary; public and periodic disclosure of assets by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges.

The report also recommended that retired judges should be allowed to lead the National Judicial Council to improve its independence; and urgent investigation of allegations of age falsification among judges by the National Judicial Council.

The report also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to proactively and robustly use their statutory powers to investigate and prosecute judicial corruption and to request from the National Judicial Council files on cases of corrupt judges for prosecution.


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  • Wale

    Who will adjudicate the cases against those “corrupt judges”.
    Better connected “corrupt judge”
    but, it’s a good step in the right direction.

    • Burbank

      Simple – get the AG/CCB to charge them at the CCT.
      Danladi Umar and Atedze William Agwaza will burn those corrupt judges to ashes.

  • New Nigerian

    A people and a system that is fair and just would survive and thrive. I am gladdened by the commitment and resolve demonstrated here by the attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thanks to Civil Society organizations like SERAP for their work in seeing to transparency, equity and fairness (a necessary ingredient for freedom, liberty and democracy)

  • God dey

    This is very good statement from the AG. Really good. We can’t get anywhere with these corrupt judges all over the place. I actually agree they are worst than corrupt politicians. What is most disturbing is that these judges give a man who steals goat 10 years while giving ridiculous sentences to those stealing our commonwealth. So I ask “Where is the commonsense”? Or “Where is the justice”? May corrupt judges end in jail and never again sit in our courtrooms!

    • God dey

      And well done again to SERAP and their team

  • Wetin Naija

    One of the biggest problems in Nigeria is the issue of corrupt Judges

    • God dey

      Absolutely spot on! #NoMoreJusticeForSale

  • OYO MEESI

    This Buhari is really worth my $2k contribution to his campaign fund. Whilst I have made my life abroad for more than 15years, I will still want a Nigeria that works for those who pay their way through honesty and hard work…God bless PMB

    • Isi Agwo

      When are you going home to “enjoy” life in Nigeria under your Messiah Bokohari.

      • yam eaters

        Get a life slave or better still wake up ojukwu from the grave to rule you imbeciles

      • Abiboss

        Majority of Nigerians abroad support this president because of our exposures to the western world we know the level Nigeria should be but looters will not allow this country to go higher. There are so many opportunities for investors in Nigeria but corruption has hindered them to come. Nigeria is supposed to be making money right now due to devaluation of naira because it makes the goods produced in Nigeria cheaper but most of the products made in Nigeria don’t meet international standard. Also, Nigeria depends of imported goods. A lot of manufacturing companies moved to Ghana during the last administration because of lack of stable electricity. Even God knew the important of light. That was the reason He made light first. America depends on stable light because without it there will be no US. If they take light for 5 minutes, it is chaos and confusion especially for the children that never experienced it before. The lives of everyone depend on it because everything that makes life easier depends on it like wifi for Internet access, tv, phone, stove, cars if you have electric type, stop lights because there are no traffic officers at junctions and manufacturing companies including those small businesses that hire 1 -20 people around the corners of every street. This can happen in Nigeria if everyone can say no to corruption.

      • Uzoma John

        Oyo Meesi will come after our amiable PMB finishes cleaning the mess your guys left behind – stealing all the money and wrecking our economy. Ochinti amaghi na agha ebidogo. No longer business as usual my friend.

        • OYO MEESI

          In all honesty, I have been privileged to live here and travel all over the world on work and pleasure that my family is settled here without the stress of moving back to Nigeria.
          Nation building takes generations to achieve ‘cos it took the oyinbos many generations to build their society we all enjoy today. So I am not ignorant to note that it will take many years to cleanse Nigeria before Nation building even starts and at my age I have to be realistic that the Nigeria of my dream is not possible in my life time.
          however
          However we will support Buhari for the start of our nation building.

      • Burbank

        When you R.I.P.

    • Burbank

      God bless you, sir.

  • C3kwe

    But this administration has no respect for judiciary and separation of power. Is it not corruption and impunity when a judge grants a suspect bail and buhari’s regime disobeys the court order. He who seeks equity must go with clean hand.

    • Truthism

      Please shut up and open / educate your mind before you are left behind in the old Nigeria. Up Nigeria, One nation under God and PMB.

      • C3kwe

        Please if you know you can’t engage in a civilised discussion don’t reply to my contribution. Insult would not put food on your table you idiotic Wanker.

        • Burbank

          “Insult would not put food on your table you idiotic Wanker.”

          Corruption puts billions of dollars into the fraudsters’ accounts!

    • God dey

      Let’s wake up, please and face the real issue, which is the absolute danger that corrupt judges pose to the rule of law and the democratic process. If we deal with corrupt judges I can assure u that corrupt politicians will be too scare to steal our commonwealth because they will know that they will end up in jail if they do that. I look forward to the day we these corrupt judges will be sent to jail

    • Rumournaire

      You need to be better informed. If an accused has 10 issues against him, admits to only one of them, applies for and gets bail for that one, that does not automatically translate to bail for all other cases. He may be freed on that one case but could be immediately rearrested because of the other cases. The answer is for people to own up to all their misdeeds and not assume they can hide.

      • Akatikpo

        You are wrong. You don’t split charges. Just like you don’t split contracts. Charge splitting and contract splitting are offences. Because you have ten count charge against you does not mean you have to be separately bailed for all the charges. You are encouraging Buhari to be a full blown despot. Hope you won’t cry when he and his military cabal dismantles all democratic institutions. We are watching.

        • Rumournaire

          Who says you don’t split charges? What do you think it means when an accused is slapped with 10 charges? You have not heard that an accused could be discharged and acquitted on some charges but convicted on others? You sure show that you are not a lawyer and know very little about law.

          • Akatikpo

            Mr. Law Professor, You don’t split charges for the purpose of holding an accused in bondage in a matter that is obviously bailable. By doing so, you are worse than an infidel. You are innocent until proved guilty. In the eyes of the law, it is better that 10 criminals be set free than one innocent person be incarcerated for an offence he did not commit.

          • Rumournaire

            You need to rewrite the law books then. But as things stand today, if you are suspected of stealing money 10 different times, each time counts as a separate charge for which you can be punished if found guilty. You may be found innocent on 9 of the 10 counts but may be jailed for the only one on which you are found guilty. I don’t have to be a law professor to understand that principle – which we read in the papers everyday. If you don’t like the law as it stands, you can initiate a change through the National Assembly.

    • bikky

      Oga see yourself.

    • Burbank

      Like when our bribed judges acquitted Ibori of ALL charges, only for Ibori to be jailed for 13 years for the SAME CHARGES in London by a non-corrupt UK judge!

  • eclub

    Buhari is going to ICC

    • Daniel

      Even while a revolution is taking place right in your very naked eyes, you still cannot see.

      First take George Bush to ICC.

      Whoever cannot explain their source of wealth in Nigeria should go to jail,after forfeiting it.

      • eclub

        First get them to declare their assets publicly; including the president and his vice. Complete, full asset declaration, so the citizens can join in cleaning up corruption. If you they don’t declare their assets publicly, how can we determine their wealth, talk less of their source? Think!

    • Ajayi Ifayemi

      Mtcheew!

    • Burbank

      Tompolo is going to the White House

    • John

      After your father and grandmother…

    • Buhari4Ever

      After GEJ and Mama Peace have been convicted of embezzlement.

  • bikky

    Here is the awaited revolution we asking for, jail the jailer!

  • FreeNigeria

    About time. Nigerian Judiciary is the most corrupt in the world

  • C3kwe

    Ok, I understand your logic. But don’t complain if in future, you or any of your relatives found themselves in this situation. Don’t forget, it could be any one. Disobeying court order is not a good way to start.

    • Du Covenant

      It is exactly your type of logic that has ruined Nigeria. We have weak institutions and laws because we are afraid to of being caught up in the net or our relatives. What a perverted way of thinking. Countries that mean business are better organised and we just sit, admire them and keep wishing we were like them. Very strange logic indeed.

      • Burbank

        Gbam

  • Dazmillion

    Until the EFCC starts investigating Judges and bankers the war on corruption hasn’t started.

    • Passionate about Nigeria

      Dazmillion May God bless you! I have been wondering why no one is talking about the bankers. Which banks were used to move these stolen funds around?

  • Omotolaaraujo

    The NJC has not done their job well.

  • I now have a real President! #FireOnBuhari

  • Burbank

    About time!
    Bravo to Abubakar Malami
    Burn those judges that enriched
    themselves with such stolen funds.
    Shame them and their familes; wife, sons, daughters, mother, father even their pet dogs.
    Shekau kills Nigeria with bombs; those judges kill Nigeria with their corruption.

  • Ebubedike

    Poetic justice! Nigerian judges deserve whatever they get from Bokohari and his band of witch-hunting bandits. After all, the same judges ruled that it was right for a serial fraudster, forger, perjurer and illiterate, who had presented a false affidavits, to stand for election to be president of Nigeria.

  • share Idea

    Buhari and his followers like threatening people. The same AGF last two weeks said that the government will not apply plea bargain but before our very eyes last week, EFCC released Mr Jafau based on the premise that he returned certain part of alleged loot.

  • deji

    This is long overdue!
    When are Nigerian judges going to be caught on tape taking bribe? Buhari hinted on this during the media chat when he talked about “marked money”
    Without waiting for Government, I want to appeal to investigative journalism news outlet like PremiumTimes and Sahara reporters to embark on this project. If funding will be an issue, please let us know. Guys like myself will be very happy to contribute my “widows mite”.
    It is called citizens helping citizens to expose and get rid of corruption.
    As long as we have many corrupt judges in the system, any anti corruption fight is dead on arrival.
    It may be a difficult and a dangerous task, but it is a task that must be done
    Nigeria must be great! Dole…

    • Dan Arewa

      I agree with you. Please PT and SR, the ball is in your hands now. Help Nigerians as usual.

    • David Adeniran

      This will be my happiest moment, to see these DISGRACE to the legal system openly disgraced. They are worse than armed robbers. Some of them have become Chief Judges today but we know them that they are ROGUES! One of them known to me, started her roguery as Magistrate but today she is a Chief Judge! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the news that she has been appointed Chief Judge. She knows absolutely nothing but STEALING, CORRUPTION and INJUSTICES.

      • deji

        Operation expose corrupt judges is getting attention.
        My brother, I beg reach out to me via email if necessary.
        Nigeria shall be great.
        Against all odds, Buhari Presidency has been achieved. Exposing and getting rid of corrupt judges is possible too.
        Our optimism and can do attitude got us to where we are today.
        Yes We Can!
        When all is said and done, I will be happy with myself that I played my own part towards achieving Nigeria’s greatness.

        • David Adeniran

          They have turned the Temple of Justice to Den of Robbers!

  • Ebaah Odibo

    How this laudable goal will be actualized is not stated. What mechanism for whistle-blowing, discreet investigations and prosecutions are in place to give teeth to this pronouncement? Nothing. Just another campaign-style promise by APC chieftain. And he sent his subordinate! He would soon deny he ever said a thing like that.

  • Andrew

    This is absurd with regard to the second to the last paragraph of this publication in which there was a recommendation that retired judges should mann the affairs of the NJC in other to improve independence. Then comes the question, how sure are we that the retired judges are not corrupt? And as well, does it mean tha the young lawyers shall not grow or should they remain static and stunted like the nation’s economy? How then do they expect the young to be the future leaders of tomorrow?
    We should ask ourselves whether our present government is a democratic or gerentrocratic government. If democratic, then why all the appointments channelled towards the old and not the young one or the mix of both for equal representation?
    THIS IS A FOOD FOR THOUGHT. WE SHOULD WAKE UP FROM SLUMBER/SNURING.

    See; Nigerian government vows to jail corrupt judges, seize stolen assets
    January 19, 2016Nicholas Ibekwe.
    PREMIUM TIMES.

    • Passionate about Nigeria

      Andrew you really know what you are talking about. It is these retired judges that taught the current crop of judges how to be corrupt! How does Malami think we got into this mess in the first place? I swear this AGF sha..

  • Passionate about Nigeria

    I hear you… yet PMB recently appointed the wife of the CJN who introduced corruption into the judiciary. In the days of Bello JSC corrupt judges were asked to resign or be sacked then came his successor and the rest as they say is history. The mistake this government will make is to assume it is new judges that are corrupt. Children will only learn from their parents. Punish the fathers and grandfathers of corruption in the judiciary and the current crop will learn. Yet this week we were greeted with the news thst PMB had appointed the wife of one of such grandfathers as his special advisor.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      The Wife of the former CJN is not her husband. She is an individual.
      More so this former CJN has not been found guilty by a Court of competent jurisdiction, so presumed innocent, despite your perception.

      • Passionate about Nigeria

        You know when you comment, try to comment from a position of knowledge and not the usual emotional sentimental “I must say something” that we Nigerians seem to be prone to. Already I can surmise from your comments that 1) you are not a Nigerian lawyer or a judge 2) you do not know anything about the history of the Nigerian judiciary prior to 1990 3) have not had any interaction with any of these judges either professionally or personally 4) know nothing about the judiciary in Nigeria prior to the Jonathanian administration. An informed person would not argue known facts with blithe cliches.

        • Izedomi Ohirein

          I don’t have to be a lawyer to have a view that people are individuals.
          What was lacking in corrupt Jonathan’s administration is the change Nigerians voted for. You are sentimental with biased views.
          Nigeria is not a good example of best practices.

          • Passionate about Nigeria

            So you are not a lawyer or a judge yet you somehow feel competent to speak on a system and process you know nothing about and defend people you don’t even know and have never worked or interacted with. First you display gross ignorance then have crowned it with personalising a systemic problem and making disjointed statements. I really can’t help you. The day Nigerians learn to educate themselves on what they do not know is when we will have real change. Buhari’s best intentions can only succeed when we as a people change our sentimental, ignorant mentality.

          • Sparzo

            ? the …. are you on about?

            ps
            Please, do not reply,

          • Izedomi Ohirein

            You must live in cloud cokoland & a product of Nigerian failed school’s system to assume that you must be a lawyer to know that people are individuals.