THE EFFECT OF CORRUPTION AND POVERTY ON THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

Abstract 
This study examined the effect of corruption on the administration of justice within the Nigerian Judicial system and the extent to which it has affected the entire judicial process. In so doing, the researcher formulated two hypotheses to guide the study, to wit: there is no relationship between corruption and high crime rate within the Nigerian judicial system; and, judges are less likely to be corrupt when posted within their locality. The Survey Research Design was adopted by the researcher and a structured questionnaire was used to obtain information from 80 respondents consisting of lawyers from both the Bar and Bench, as well as Registrars, and other administrative staff of the Judiciary. This was in addition to direct interviews in the course of which the researcher sought to determine the types, causes, and effects of corruption within the Nigerian judicial system. The data collected were analyzed using Chi-square statistical technique. Results of the analysis revealed that: corruption gives rise to high crime rate; and that Judges are more likely to be corrupt when posted within their locality. It was recommended that: Judges should not only be properly screened to ensure that only people of proven integrity are appointed as judicial officers, but that security agencies should equally monitor them closely and routinely; judicial officers should abstain from membership of political parties to avoid influence from the political class; the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be firm in their duty of disciplining erring judicial officers to ensure dignity and integrity of these officers; all judicial officers should be adequately remunerated to reduce the excessive craving and likelihood of corruption; the practice of the Executive arm of government approving the appointment of Judges should be abolished to reduce the perceived influence of the Governors and President on the judiciary; and finally, judges should as a matter of practice be posted outside their states of origin to reduce excessive influence and pressures from family and friends. 

CHAPTER ONE 
Introduction 
1.1 Background of study 
The word corruption is derived from the latin words “corruptus” or “corruptere” in past tense meaning “intensive”, and “pere” meaning “destruction”. Thus, corruption loosely meant “intensive destruction” originally. However, the word “corrupt” when used as an adjective literally means “utterly broken”. The word was first used by Aristotle and later by Cicero who added the term bribe and abandonment of good habits. According to the United Nations, corruption is a social ill, an abuse of power for private gains which occurs both in the private and public sector (Osakede, et al., 2015). Former Nigerian President, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo had presented a Bill to the National Assembly tagged “the prohibition and punishment of bribery, corruption, and other related offences Bill of 1999” during his term in office. While it is believed that Obasanjo’s regime actually fired the first and most critical shot at corruption in Nigeria, the fight against corruption appears to be the major focus of the Muhammadu Buhari regime since May, 2015 having featured as one of his major campaign promises. 

Corruption is generally defined as the abuse of public office for private gain. In Nigeria, the practice of corruption is prevalent at the federal, state, and local government levels as well as some other decentralized centres of power and authority in addition to the private sector. As the scope of corruption has widened, its definition and meaning has equally been enlarged to cover the abuse of all offices of trust for private gain. It is basically the illegitimate use of public power or position to benefit a private interest (Morris, 1991; Uzochukwu, 2018). 

According to Senior (1987; 2006), corruption is an action to secretly provide a good or service to another or a third party so that he or she can influence certain actions which benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both in which the corrupt agent has authority. It encompasses unilateral abuses by government officials such as embezzlement and nepotism, as well as abuses linking public and private actors such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. 

Corruption arises in both political and bureaucratic offices and can be petty or grand, organized or unorganized. Though corruption often facilitates criminal activities such as fraud, stealing, money laundering, and prostitution, it is however not restricted to these activities. Thus, for purposes of understanding the problem and devising remedies, it is necessary to keep crime and corruption analytically distinct. While corruption is a crime within the framework of our corpus juris in Nigeria, the reverse is not necessarily so. Crime is thus wider than, and encompasses corruption. Corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world (UNODC,2015). 

Political corruption takes place at the highest level of political authority. It occurs when the political decision makers who are entitled to formulate, establish, and implement the laws in the name of the people are themselves corrupt. It also takes place when policy formulation and legislation is tailored to benefit politicians and legislators. Political corruption is sometimes seen as similar to “corruption of greed” as it affects the manner in which decisions are made, and it manipulates political institutions, rules of procedure, and distorts the institutions of government. It is the use of powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain (Wikipedia). 

Bureaucratic corruption on the other hand occurs in the public administration particularly at the implementation end of policies. This kind of corruption is sometimes referred to as “petty” or “low level” corruption. It is the kind of corruption that citizens encounter daily in public and private offices and which has become more or less routine. Indeed, it has been posited that poor people are more likely to be victims of corrupt behaviour by street-level bureaucrats as the poor often rely heavily on services provided by government (Justesen, 2014). The judicial arm of government is thus not an exception and both lawyers and litigants are consciously or unconsciously made victims of varying degrees of extortion by judicial officers in the course of the dispensation of justice. 

For clarity of purpose, the term judicial system is used loosely to refer to the courts, judges, magistrates, and other adjudicators who are assigned the task of resolving conflicts and disputes in accordance with the law in a given state either on career or ad-hoc basis. A judicial officer is thus any person with the responsibility and power to facilitate, arbitrate, preside over, and make decisions and directions in regard to the application of the law (Wikipedia). In any democratic dispensation where there is the rule of law, it is the responsibility of the judicial officersto interpret the constitution and other laws in order to maintain law and order. Consequently, the credibility of a political system is usually assessed on the basis of the extent to which the judicial arm is able to hold the scale of justice over and above the other arms of government. 

The relevance of an independent and competent judicial system that is impartial, efficient, and reliable cannot then be over-emphasized. This requires a strict compliance with objective criteria for the appointment and removal of judges and other judicial officers at all levels, adequate remuneration, security of tenure, and independence from both the executive and legislative arms of government both in direct and indirect terms. 

This is in realization of the trite fact that unless the judiciary is independent, it will neither be able to pass judgments impartially, nor defend the citizens against wrongful use of power by an unpopular administration. 

To be specific, the challenge of corruption in this arm of government that is to uphold the rule of law is manifest in the allegations that patently corrupt and incapable persons are routinely appointed into the superior courts as a result of which they have caused significant damage to the dignity and image of the judiciary. Consequently, the media has been awash with news of arrests and prosecution of judges accused of corruption and receiving of bribes and other favours especially in the course of adjudication of high profile cases such as election petitions, corruption cases, and the trial of other high profile and especially politically exposed litigants, etc.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 63 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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