The Acting Chief Judge of Kogi state, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi has enjoined Magistrates to key into Kogi Judiciary’s integrity-building policy for effective administration of justice.
Justice Majebi gave the charge on Monday during an interactive session he held with the Magistrates at the Judiciary headquarters in Lokoja the state capital.
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.
“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.
He maintained that the Judiciary and the public were inseparable Siamese twins whose interests must always be placed side-by-side in the scheme of things because public opinion and perception of the Judiciary is critical to her integrity.
“We must always take cognisance of the fact that the Judiciary is a public-oriented institution whose activities are always in public purview. It is therefore expected that we are always mindful of public perception as a measure of our performance and integrity.
“This is why the Council approved the whistleblowing policy so that we can get feeders from the public who are our partners in the administration of justice in the state. In as much as we’re determined to apply the law as provided fairly, and without fear or favour, we must be seen to be doing so with our honour and integrity intact” he stated.
The CJ who said the state already has 72 Magistrates and wouldn’t be appointing new ones harps on generally held view of corrupt-related activities in the nation’s Judiciary that lower court Judges must resist.
These include but are not limited to demand for bail sums; arbitrary sentencing and improper record of fines charged; illegal and unauthorized fees like hearing or trial fee; abuse of detention warrant; frivolous grant of unsolicited orders; compromised hospitality to litigants, including lawyers and parties; improper detention or denial of bail to deserving defendants contrary to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Kogi State, 2017, (in the case of Kogi state) and sale of judgment to the highest bidder.
“When you take 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 a 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 into 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.”
Other members of the Council of Judges at the session coroborated the CJ with emphasis on discipline, hardwork, positive public perception, diligence, protection of personal and institutional image, good conscience, adherence with professional code of conduct and ethics, revamping institutional integrity and sacrifice even as they also said digitalization of court processes would soon commence.