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Five sacked judges face corruption charges

[Nigeria] A Nigerian woman casts her vote in local elections March 2004. IRIN
Voting in Nigeria. Judges failed to ensure a fair result
Five judges sacked for accepting bribes to influence the decisions of a Nigerian election tribunal will soon appear in court to face corruption charges, head of Nigeria’s anti-graft commission has said. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), said on Wednesday in the capital Abuja that the judges would be charged in court as soon the body had concluded its investigations. They were recently arrested, but were subsequently released on police bail. Effiong Udo, the former chief judge of Akwa Ibom state in southeast Nigeria, is accused of being the conduit through which an unspecified sum of money in bribes was passed to four other judges who were members of an election tribunal. Officials have not named the source of the bribes. Judges Matilda Adamu, Anthony Elelegwu, O.J. Isede and Tanimu Mahmoud allegedly accepted the bribes to return a verdict favourable to Ime Umanah, the candidate for the governorship of Akwa Ibom state of the opposition All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP)in a dispute over the outcome of last year's general elections. Umanah had challenged the victory of Victor Attah, the candidate for the governorship of President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Akanbi told reporters that Udo “will find himself in the dock answering questions about his imperfections,” along with the other accused persons. All the accused judges had earlier been sacked from their jobs by the National Judicial Council, the disciplinary arm of Nigeria's court system, which conducted its own probe. A new electoral tribunal was subsequently constituted to hear the petition filed by Umanah. The ICPC was set up by Obasanjo through the first bill which he forwarded to parliament following his election in 1999. Obasanjo, who was re-elected for a second term last year, has often stressed his commitment to root out widespread corruption in Nigeria. However, more than five years after it came into being, the ICPC has yet to secure the conviction of a single public official. The anti-corruption commission has brought charges against several former government ministers, including some who served under Obasanjo, but this is the first time it has turned its guns on the judiciary. The National Judicial Council has been rather more energetic. It has sacked at least 20 judges in the past five years for accepting bribes and making improper judgements. Some of these were perceived to be in favour of the ruling party or Obasanjo’s government.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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