Irked by the booming illegal issuance of affidavits at higher fees, Nigerians have blamed the slow processes and officials conniving with touts for the endemic corruption in the system, pointing accusing fingers to heads of courts and the police for not acting.
The disclosure is coming on the heels of an investigative report by Premium Times on the long-existing fraud in the Nigerian courts’ affidavit-issuing system, which still thrived despite strike action by judiciary workers recently.
Reacting to the issue during an anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja, the Director of Constitutional Watch, Barr Aham Njoku lamented that touts and criminals have taken over the precinct of many High courts, Magistrate courts, Sharia courts around the country, in the cities and hinterlands.
Njoku, while recognizing that the fraudulent acts of the touts are aided by some court officials, hence, stressed that their actions were tarnishing the image of the country internationally. He added that Nigerians have now become both victims and participants of the affidavit scam due to impatience to follow due process.
Njoku blamed the leaders in the judiciary for their unwillingness to go after the touts and officials perpetrating the frauds.
“The court authorities and police must identify the genuine people and the people who are touting, and deal with these criminals.
“The Divisional Police Officers drive past these places; If I were a Chief Judge, I would set up a task force working with the Police to carry out periodic raids, arrest and persecution of these individuals and by now we would have had sanity around the court premises and affidavits issues.
“The process should be simple, because in truth when the process is simplified Nigerians will not patronize touts, and the process can be simplified, ” Njoku insisted.
Similarly, Premium Times reporter, Kunle Sanni, who conducted the investigation lamented that poor public awareness, database, and failure to synergize information was aiding and abetting the activities of the touts at different courts he visited.
According to Sanni: “The judiciary needs to do a lot of orientation, a lot of people don’t understand the process of getting affidavits, so there is a knowledge gap.
“Also, we need a data system that synergizes information and affidavits sworn from one court to the other,” he said.
However, some Nigerians residing in Abuja, who joined the discussion via phone, raised different concerns with regards to the thriving fraud in Nigerian courts’ affidavit-issuing system.
Here are what a few of them said:
Henry said, “I have to be frank with you, most of the things that happen in the court are either caused by the senior staff of the Court or the Commissioner of Oath themselves, most times you go there the Commissioner of Oath would ask you for things which ordinarily you don’t have.”
Cyprian said:” Going to our courts is almost the same thing as going to the hospital, you will go there and sometimes you will find it difficult to see personnel on the seat, like doctor you will wait for like thirty minutes, the same thing with all this courts, our courts are not well organized.”
Another caller who identified himself as Enebeli said the process of getting an affidavit from courts is stressful, while the touts hanging around the courts are far simpler and easier for him.
It will also be recalled that the Judiciary was rated poorly on Corruption in Nigeria between 2018 and 2020.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
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