Gift Donations to Judges: Lawyer, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Petitions NJC Seeking Rectitude to Anomaly

Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed

Abuja based lawyer and rights activist, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, has addressed a petition to the Chairman of the National Judicial Council of Nigeria and Honourable Chief Justice, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed expressing reservations at the trends of gift donations to the judiciary by the executive, and proffering solutions to curb the anomaly.

The full text of the petition is reproduced below:


24th February, 2020.
The Honourable Chairman,
National Judicial Council of Nigeria and
The Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria,
Supreme Court Complex,
Three Arms Zone,
Abuja.
Your Lordship,
IS THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL (NJC) NOT IN THE BEST POSITION TO OFFER AND DISBURSE

INCENTIVES TO JUDICIAL OFFICERS?!

  1. The above subject matter refers.
  2. There have been occasions where the executives especially some Governors of States of the Federation
    of Nigeria, would directly donate and or offer welfare incentives to judicial officers as incentives to them in
    a way. For instance, it was recently reported that the Kaduna State Governor had donated 24 jeeps to
    Kaduna State’s High Court’s Judges in order to enhance the welfare of judicial officers in that State. It was
    also reported that the State Governor had promised more vehicles to be provided to other judges and that
    his government has plans to construct housing estates for the judges, among other plans disclosed by the
    Kaduna State’s Governor. These welfare plans to the Kaduna State’s judicial officers, I believe, was done
    by His Excellency, the Governor of Kaduna State, in a way of enhancing those judicial officers,
    nevertheless, with due respect, I humbly contend and disapprove this act of unnecessary generosity in the
    interest of justice and the independence of the judiciary. I rather prefer that the National Judicial Council-
    herein after referred to as the NJC- should directly deal with any incentive and or enhancing welfare of
    judicial officers, hence, this petition.
  3. Your Lordship, it is my humble understanding that judicial officers are clearly defined by section 6 of the
    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)-herein after referred to as the
    Constitution. The roles of judges or judicial officers in justice dispensation cannot also be
    overemphasized. Therefore, I fear (respectfully) that ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tunes’ as the
    adage is usually said. I therefore humbly recommend that the executive or any other arm of government
    should not directly offer any grant or incentive or welfare enhancement to any judicial officer except same
    is passed and or submitted generally to the NJC which in turn, distributes same to the judicial officers on
    his record or to for whom the packages are offered, much more so that since such gifts or donations are for the judiciary and not necessarily for the judicial officers personally. Their incentive should in my respectful view, be directly from the NJC and not be made to subject the judiciary to the control and o direction of those executive, with due respect. It is my humble submission that judicial officers are not subject to the executive rather to the NJC, so NJC must take full control of their welfare, so that they do not get any familiarity with any of the other arms of government or any member of the public in such a way that ordinary citizen feels that they are easily influenced. Permit me Your Lordship, take hint and wisdom fro the provision of section 162 of the Constitution which provides thus ‘(9) Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Federation Account shall be paid directly to the National Judiciary Council for disbursement to the heads of courts established for the Federation and the States under section 6 of this Constitution.’, making it mandatory to pay such emoluments of judicial officers directly to the NJC for onward disbursement to the heads of courts established for the Federation and the States under section 6 of the Constitution. Here, I have observed two procedures have been laid down by the Constitution in this regard: 1. Such emolument shall be paid to NJC; 2. The NJ disburse same to heads of courts who then disburse same to their respective judicial officers. The question is why can this procedure not apply to distribution of cars and other gifts by the executive arm or other arm of government to judicial officers?!
  4. With due respect My Lord, NJC must join hands and voices together with me on these recommendations
    to champion the position that the executive should stop giving out gifts and other incentives whatsoever to
    any judicial officer henceforth, in the interest of justice and that of the judicial independence, rather, same
    should be paid and or deposited and or handed over to the NJC directly and NJC would then know what
    and how to deal with the said gift in compliance with the procedures laid down by the Constitution in
    section 162 (supra). The NJC is therefore advised to send notification to all States’ executive arms and
    the legislative arms to stop such direct handover of gifts to judicial officers as it is a usurpation of the
    functions of the NJC and an easy way to influence and or corrupt such judicial officers with due respect.
    The NJC is further advised to put in place policy and guidelines for making donations and or gifts to judicial
    officers. The NJC is also advised to put in place punitive measures and against any judicial officer who
    receives such gift as a way of curbing any of these offers not coming directly through the NJC.
  5. Finally, My Noble Lord, it is my belief that these recommendations would be considered and taken into
    adequate consideration. This does not mean that I am saying that the executive or the legislature has bad
    mind in the offer of the gift rather it is in the interest of manifest justice and to avoid any slight opportunity
    to deviate from judicial roles by those judicial officers, with due respect. These recommendations will also
    afford judicial independence of the judiciary.
    Yours faithfully,

Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
Sole Practitioner/Human and Socio-economic Rights Activist.

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