The recruitment of court judges in Abia State has been allegedly fraught with bribery and corruption as members of the State Judicial Service Commission reportedly received bribes from applicants.
According to Daily Sun, one of the magistrates reportedly collapsed and died for not making the list despite paying the N15 million bribe for the recruitment which she raised by mortgaging her house.
Sources said the process of nominating judicial officers to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment as state judges from the state has been embroiled in a bribery scandal.
It was gathered that some members of the Abia State Judicial Commission and staff of the state Ministry of Justice saw the exercise as an opportunity to fleece judicial officers, demanding as high as N15 million from candidates.
At present, it was gathered, the state judicial commission had shortlisted 15 candidates for onward transmission to the NJC, from which 10 would finally be appointed Abia State judges.
Sources revealed that Abia State Judicial Commission had set an examination for candidates who wished to become state judges.
“About 182 judicial officers participated in the examination, including state magistrates and law lecturers,” a source revealed.
It was gathered that after the examination, a syndicate of the state judicial commission and officials of state Ministry of Justice approached the candidates and demanded N15 million from those who wanted to make the list for Abuja.
One of the female magistrates, who participated in the examination, was said to have mortgaged her family house in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, to raise money demanded by agents of the judicial commission and officials of the Ministry of Justice.
It was gathered that on hearing that payment of the N15 million was not a guarantee to make the list, as the syndicate collected money from more candidates than the number of state judges to be appointed, the female magistrate collapsed and died.
She has yet to be buried.
Relatives of the late female magistrate, who were aware of the bribe collected by the judicial commission cartel, were said to have demanded a refund and got part of the money.
It was gathered that the list of shortlisted candidates by the judicial commission is now with the state branch of the Department of State Services (DSS) for security checks. Those cleared would be transmitted to Abuja.
According to the Daily Sun, the list showed that the principle of federal character was not followed as there was no spread.
Some candidates were picked from areas which already have state judges, to the exclusion of others that did not have but with qualified candidates.
Also, it was gathered, a wife of one of the members of the state judicial commission was among those shortlisted for nomination to NJC.