Corruption and its Control in Nigeria: Role of the Judiciary System






The role of the Judiciary system in any nation cannot be over accentuated, irrespective of the kind of government be it democratic, autocratic, and military or monarchy. This stand was clearly highlighted by Aguda (2008) that it is nearly self-evident that the judiciary functions in a paramount role of any egalitarian system. Certainly a democratic system can be seen on the basis of the level to which the judicial system is allowed to control the balance of justice over and above the other arms of government. The basis of power of the judiciary for performing this strategic function is definitely, the Constitution. In emphasizing the significance of the Judiciary to the public, the military junta also depended on it for authenticity. In the opinion of Walubiri (2012), even in the most dictatorial governments in Africa, an impression of the judiciary system still thrives. Originally, the system requires a judge to swear in the dictator, and courts to ‘lawfully’ jail or even kill oppositions of the new government who are demonized and tagged counter-revolutionaries, traitors, imperialist representatives or basically backward forces.

If the Judiciary is this fundamental, central and critical to development of any nation then, judiciary must definitely have roles in the control of corruption. In other societies, the Judiciary is held in high esteem and treated like individuals from another planet. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court of the United States of America was described in the following statement by Woodward and Armstrong (2013) in relation to the secrecy of their activities for those almost two hundred years, the Court has made its decisions in total secrecy, handing down its judgments in official written opinions. Only these judgments, final and unreviewable, are delivered. No American organization has so totally held the manner it is perceived by the society. The Court’s deliberative process-its in-house debates, the provisional status assumed by the Justices, the initial votes, the numerous briefs of written judgments, the negotiations, confrontations, and compromises-is hidden from societal perception.

Corruption certainly is a macro phenomenon that cuts across global boundaries. It is a menace that is negatively affecting every nation around the world, though its influence is different from one nation to another depending on the attitude of the people towards it and the seriousness’ with which the government tackles its menace. Dang (2011) argued that corruption understood as abuse of public office is persistent feature in human societies throughout time and space and contemporaneous corruption scandals not only occur in developing countries such as Nigeria, where corruption is regarded as a norm, but also in developed economics such as France, Britain and America.

Dike (2011) gave allusion to the universality of corruption that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to relieve some of its members their seats because they had taken bribes and all the commissioners of the European Union (EU) resigned because they were found to be corrupt beyond acceptable limit. He wrote further that in the United States recently two multinational business organisations, Enron Corporation and WorldCom, were charged for fraud.

In Nigeria corruption is endemic. There is no gainsaying the fact that it pervades every facet of the country’s social, political and economic system. There is no structure or department in Nigeria that is free from corruption and its ancillary problems.. Corruption is a social malaise that has holistically permeates all the nerves of any polity. It is contagious and malignant to the physiology of any political system. Once it sets into any part; it automatically contaminates all the strata of the systems socio-political structures in ways symmetrical to the spread of a bush fire (Aluko, 2012). Osheviri (2012) said inter alia that the problem of Nigeria is corruption. The average Nigerian is corrupt and we need to shed this toga. Given the enormous resources the nation is blessed with, it is a shame that nothing works. There are no good roads, water and electricity. In Nigeria, corruption lives. It is so palpable that it can be felt and touched. The whole economic machinery of the country stinks and ooze with corruption. Olanipekun (2013) had this to say that corruption, no doubt, is one such challenge and a huge one at that. For many years, Nigeria and her teeming masses have been straining under the yoke of corruption. The cankerworm has not only burrowed deep into the fabric of the society, it has inflicted a serious damage to the national psyche and grossly undermined successive developmental efforts aimed at placing the country at par with the rest of the modern world. Little wonder Olagunju.(2012) opined that corruption has been institutionalised in Nigeria.

Transparency International in their perception index of 2012 ranked Nigeria as the 37th most corrupt country. Scoring 27 out of a maximum 100 marks to clinch the 139th position out of the 176 countries surveyed. It shared the position with Azerbaijan, Kenya, Nepal and Pakistan. In the report Togo, Mali, Niger and Benin fared better than Nigeria. In this scenario, the researcher is of the assumption that judiciary should be the last hope of national revival from corruption.


It is disheartening that in spite the wide perception of high level of corruption in Nigeria, the country does not appear to be ready for the fight against corruption as indicated by the recent development in the country. There were cases of politicians that were charged for corruption and the judiciary system in Nigeria gave verdicts that they have no case to answer and foreign courts were able to prosecute and convict them for same offences. The case of Ibori the former governor of oil rich state of Delta that was let off the hook by the court in Nigeria only to be jailed in the United Kingdom for corruption and the state pardon granted to the convicted former governor of Bayelsa state come to mind. Recently in Nigeria, some judges were actually charged with corruption, and the system appears to being used for opposition witch-hunting by the ruling class. However, the current researcher seeks to examine the role of the judiciary system in the control of corruption in Nigeria.


The general objective of this study is to analyze the role of the judiciary system in the control of corruption in Nigeria while the following are the specific objectives:

  1. To examine the general roles of the judiciary system in Nigeria.
  2. To analyze the role of the judiciary in the control of corruption in Nigeria.
  3. To determine the level of effectiveness of the judiciary system in the fight against corruption in Nigeria


  1. What are the general roles of the judiciary system in Nigeria?
  2. What are the roles of the judiciary in the control of corruption in Nigeria?
  3. What is the level of effectiveness of the judiciary system in the fight against corruption in Nigeria?


The following are the significance of this study:

  1. Outcome of this study will educate the government, policy makers, judicial officers and stakeholders, general public on the role of judiciary in the control of corruption in Nigeria. It will also enlighten in the effectiveness level of judiciary system in Nigeria as regards fight against corruption.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of corruption and its control in Nigeria – role of the judiciary system, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.


This study is limited to the Nigerian judiciary system. It will cover the activities of the judiciary in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.


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