Muhammed Abubakar, Reporting
Chief Judge of Bauchi State, Justice Rabi Talatu Umar has decried frauds among a few staff of the judiciary through forged papers which has plunged the arms of government into huge monetary losses.
She made the disclosure while swearing in 31 newly-appointed Commissioners of Oath for the State Sharia Court of Appeal who will work with those of the State High Court.
The Chief Judge, who could not hide her displeasure over the development, explained further on how the fraudulent practices were perpetrated.
“The recent directive I gave for the investigation was the instances some staff of the High Court entered into contractual relationship with various companies worth billions of Naira using forged stamp, letterhead of the office of the Chief Registrar and forms without our knowledge, authority or consent,” he lamented.
The fraudulent contracts according to the Chief Judge included Daneejow for the sum of N162,000,000.00 (supplied Rice of 6,000 bags), Nakuwa Nig. Enterprise for the sum of N168,000,000.00 (supplied Rice of 6,000 bags), Anieco Global Synergy Ltd, the sum of N1,080,000,000.00 (to supply 4,000 Laptops); Kommy Foods and Braids LTD, the sum of N2,200,000.00 (supplied Rice of 1,080 bags)
Others were: Y.K Priority for the sum of N3,100,000,000.00 (to supply Lady’s Motorcycles 10,000); Task Systems N1,100,000,000.00 (to supply Laptops 500 Units); Mabs Resources Ltd. N5,750,000,000.00 (to supply Keke Napep 5 Units); Rockchuks Resources International Ltd (Rice 1,800 bags) and Khusufah Nig, Ltd. 50,400,000.00 (Rice 400 bags).
She said that, “In an instance where the victims of the fraudulent activity complained directly to the EFCC. The staff were investigated and charged to court by the EFCC and are currently standing trial. Another similar instance was about four months ago when some staff of the High Court defrauded a company from Kaduna State using forged documents of the High Court of Bauchi State. The company petitioned them to the AIG Zone 12, Bauchi. They were investigated and charged to Court by the Police and subsequently remanded at Correctional Service facility”.
According to her, “All these fraudulent contractual transactions being entered into by these enemies of the judiciary to defraud innocent people are with full support and active connivance of their godfather who is a senior member of the organization operating behind the scene and share in the proceeds of the fraud”.
“It is worrisome that we are fighting to stop these unfortunate activities in the judiciary by putting measures in place to check the menace but the perpetrators are fighting us back using religion. My intention is to extend the security documents to the Sharia Court of Appeal so as to carried the Hon. Grand Kadi along to check and stem the tide of this menace”, She added.
Rabi Talatu Umar stressed that, “It is unfortunate that people of questionable character are using religious cards to sustain and maintain their fraudulent activities.
“I am advising the general public to verify any misinformation and even look at the standing and antecedents of the people dishing out the misinformation”.
She further called on the general public to always verify and ascertain the contribution rumour peddlers have made to the religion they are now using to sustain their nefarious activities and the contribution | personally made to the religion to determine who among us is undermining the religion”.
The Chief Judge declared that, “Our policies are always opened and transparent. The fact that we are conservative and don’t always respond to issues unnecessarily does not mean we will not set the record straight”.
She congratulated the newly appointed and sworn-in Commissioners for Oath, from the Sharia Court Appeal Division of the Bauchi State Judiciary and also urged them to shun all forms of corruption, malpractices and unethical behaviour in the discharge of the onerous responsibilities bestowed on them.
She added that, “With their appointment and swearing in today, Bauchi State Judiciary have complete set of Commissioners for Oath havin earlier appointed and sworn in that of the High Court Division.”
According to her, “This is a new innovation in line with modern trend obtainable in most States and Jurisdictions to check the menace of corruption and prevent leakage of government revenue. We have printed Court forms with security features, such as affidavit probate and other necessary forms, after we have observed with dismay some disgruntled elements among our staff have the personal forms, receipts and even stamp which they used to convert the money to their personal use, thereby depriving t government of revenue”.
The Bauchi Chief Judge added that, “Since our intention is to move the state forward, before commencing the process, the Chief Registrar and Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue Service met and agreed on the modalities that certain percentage will be paid to the High Court to defray the expenses of printing the security forms while bulk of the revenue will be remitted to this State Government”.
She said that after commencing the process, the revenue generated by the High Court in the months of November and December 2021 recorded significant improvement, all of which was remitted to the account of the State Government.
Having successfully done that of the High Court Division of the Judiciary, same exercise to be extended to the Sharia Court of Appeal.
She said: “I have instructed the Chief Registrar of the High Court to invite the Chief Registrar of the Sharia Court of Appeal and the management to fashion out modalities for the appointment and swearing in of the Commissioners for Oath of the Sharia Court of Appeal, despite the fact that under the evidence Act, the Sharia Court is not to administer Oath under the Act.
“I directed the Chief Registrar to supply us with the names and particulars of the staff administering Oath in the Sharia Court of Appeal so as to swear them as Commissioners for Oaths and give them appointment letters.
“The purpose is to have the names of those who can draft affidavit from the Sharia Court Appeal particularly lawyers among them”, She stressed.
“I was surprised when my attention was drawn that some disgruntled elements with mischievous intention to twist the facts, went round spreading rumors and raising false alarm that the Chief Judge has appointed a Chief Registrar, who is a Christian to undermine the religion of Islam,” she lamented.
Rabi Talatu Umar stressed that, “I am a Muslim who followed the tenets of my religion strictly and my religion enjoined me to be fair and just to all manner of people, irrespective of their belief, creed or tribe and have sworn to uphold the provision of the Nigerian constitution as such will never do anything to undermine either my religion or the constitution”.
According to the Chief Judge, “No Ministry or Arm of Government in Bauchi State that is anchored on religion and same also applied to High Court of Justice Bauchi State where seniority matters a lot.
“The Chief Registrar (Emmanuel Danjuma) has been working with the Judiciary for 24 years and has been a lawyer for 32 years having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 1990.
“The Chief Registrar is always being appointed from among the staff of the Judiciary without recourse to religion as a criteria.
“At some point in the history of the Bauchi State Judiciary, Mrs. Modupe O. Bello a Christian and a Yoruba woman from Ibadan in Oyo State and Hon. Justice H.M Tsamani (now of the Court of Appeal) a Christian from Bogoro in Bauchi State were appointed and served as Chief Registrars of the Bauchi State High Court at various times without anybody complaining, why now?
“The truth is that we now have very corrupt people in the Judiciary who have their personal forms, receipts and even stamp using their boys to deprive the government of revenue and defraud unsuspecting members of the public”, the Chief Judge pointed out.
She said that, “What is happing now is a climax of irrevocable standing payment order granted by the then Chief Registrar of the High Court on the 23rd June, 2009 (years before I became the Chief Judge) which resulted in the judgment of the Federal High Court against the High Court of Justice of Bauchi State in favour of AMCON in Suit No. FHC/BAU/CS/37/2017 delivered on 8th December, 2020 prompting AMCON to garnish the account of Bauchi State, which matter still lingering in court”.
According to her, “The staff perpetrating these acts do so with the active connivance, support and encouragement of their godfather who now resort to using religious sentiment to cause disharmony between the High Court and the Sharia Court of Appeal.
“He is making frantic effort to undermine the integrity of his own organization using religious sentiment to deceive the general public to believe in his cause”.
She however assured that, “That will not happened under my watch. With each complain against the nefarious activities of these disgruntled elements, I always direct the Chief Registrar to investigate and all the investigation reports are indicting the perpetrators which prompted hatred for the Chief Registrar. Such investigations are directives from me and not out of his own volition”.