The Acting Chief Judge of Kogi state, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi has vowed to sanction any judicial officer in the state involved in corrupt practices, stating that the Council of Judges had critically evaluated the negative effect of the menace on the integrity of institutions in the country.
Justice Majebi made this disclosure on Monday during an interactive session he held with the Magistrates at the Judiciary headquarters in Lokoja, Kogi state.
He noted that the Council of Judges have arrived at the conclusion that urgent measures must be taken not to allow it to fester in the state’s Judiciary.
According to him, the Council would not hesitate at sanctioning any Judicial Officer or supporting staff of the court when found wanting in that regard as the public would be encouraged to maximize the opportunity provided by the whistleblowing window to expose errant ones.
“We have decided to set up Public Complaints Unit and give out phone numbers and let the public be aware that any of our Magistrates and Area Court Judges involved in corruption can be reported through that process. So we are encouraging whistleblowing and you don’t need to turn or work against it if you do what is right at the right time. You, therefore, need to be vigilant to know what is happening in your courts” he added.
The CJ who said the state already has 72 Magistrates and wouldn’t be appointing new ones harps on a generally held view of corrupt-related activities in the nation’s Judiciary that lower court Judges must resist.
He stressed that feeders from the executive arm indicated that relevant documents submitted to the governor detailing the needs of the Magistrates were already receiving desired attention and that the results would soon manifest in the improved working conditions of the Magistrates.
He used the forum to announce the formation of a Public Complaint Unit of the High Court which is imbued with whistleblowing mechanisms while urging the Magistrates and Judges of lower courts in the state as well as other staff to shun corruption.
The Acting CJ said the establishment of the unit was informed by the need to accommodate the public view of the Judiciary and deal with complaints arising from the performance of lower courts in the state.
“The enormity of the financial requirements of the High Court of Justice ecosystem was high and had been presented to the governor for which a commitment has been made.
“Unlike other courts, the High Court has 274 courts spread across the state which requires that more deliverable attention be paid to it,” he said
He stated however that he was glad that the government of the day was already giving that needed attention that would favour Magistrates, staff and all other segments of the court.
While condemning corrupt practices, the Acting Chief Judge, said the Council of Judges had critically evaluated the negative effect of the menace on the integrity of institutions in the country and arrived at the conclusion that urgent measures must be taken not to allow it to fester in the state’s Judiciary.
He noted that the Council would not hesitate at sanctioning any Judicial Officer or supporting staff of the court when found wanting in that regard assuring that the public would be encouraged to maximize the opportunity provided by the whistleblowing window to expose errant ones.
“When you take a bribe for the determination of matters, you give orders that are not sought before you or you connive with other staff to defraud the public, using the resources of your office, you are not only cheapening yourself, you have sold your pride, denigrated your institution and even place a curse on the lives and future of your children for taking what doesn’t belong to you by manipulation. We shall not condone that whenever it is genuinely brought to us” he warned.
While hinting that there would be a general transfer of Magistrates in December to give Chief Magistrates both judicial and administrative jurisdiction in each of the Local Government Areas of the state, he asked all lower court judges to be mindful of the law as he demanded contributions that would prepare the institution for the future.
“Be mindful of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Kogi State, 2017 and comply with it. If you go beyond it to detain anybody unnecessarily, we will take it as misconduct and act accordingly. Nobody can influence you if you read that portion of the law to him. So tell them that it is not right and that the authority detests it.
“If the Judiciary is spoilt you will be affected. We have contributed enough to the system to reap the fruit of the system. Even your children can come into the system. Invariably, if you help in building the Judiciary, you are building the system for the future.”