Sheriffs who collect bribes will be punished.
Sheriffs who receive pecuniary gifts to facilitate court processes will be sanctioned, the Lagos State Judiciary warned on Wednesday .
The chief Registrar of the judiciary, Ganiyu Safari, said in Lagos that the state will no longer condone corrupt practices among its sheriffs.
“We have zero tolerance for corruption and sharp practices. Anybody found culpable will be duly sanctioned,” the Chief Registrar of the judiciary said.
Mr. Safari said that the warning was necessitated by frequent complaints by lawyers and litigants about some sheriffs who allegedly collected money from them but refused to serve court processes.
“In the first instance, litigants or lawyers should not be giving money to any sheriff to effect service,” Mr. Safari said.
“It is the duty of the sheriff as an officer of the court to effect service when he has been duly assigned to do so.
“It is, therefore, the responsibility of the litigants and lawyers to identify and report any erring sheriff to us, and he will be sanctioned accordingly,” Mr. Safari said.
He said that the judiciary is committed to instilling integrity in its employees to ensure efficient and effective dispensation of justice.
Some lawyers had expressed worry at the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the sheriffs.
Olubamiji Adeosun, of Olubamiji Adeosun and Company, Lagos, said that the failure of the sheriffs to serve court processes in time had contributed to the delayed delivery of justice.
“This makes many Nigerians to lose confidence in the country’s judicial system,” he said.
Adeosun said that many lawyers had to make repeated visits to court registries to ensure that sheriffs served court processes.
He said that some sheriffs delayed the service until lawyers made applications for substituted service.
“This places an extra cost because, during the filing of processes, service cost must have been paid,” he said.
Mr Francis Nwose, of Francis Nwose and Company, also complained of the alleged careless attitude of some sheriffs, but noted that some were diligent.
He advised the state judiciary to recruit sheriffs on merit.
A lawyer, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that a case he was handling had suffered many adjournments because the sheriff who should serve the court processes on the defendants failed in his duty.
“This is frustrating,” he said
A litigant, who identified himself simply as Alhaji Baoku, also condemned the development, but blamed it on bad economy.
“Corruption now prevails in every sector because of the state of economy,’’ he said.