A Chief Magistrate, Mohammed Balogun, has been sentenced to three years in jail by an Abuja High Court for demanding a bribe of N100, 000 from a litigant for the purpose of giving him favourable judgment.
He was, however, given the option of paying a fine of N500,000.
The chief magistrate, it was learnt, was arrested barely a week before he was to be elevated to the position of a judge.
His conviction implies that he will never get to practise law again.
Balogun was charged before Justice Ishaq Bello by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on two charges bordering on demanding and receiving bribe from a litigant in his court, Dr. Isidore Nnadi.
The ICPC said in a statement by its spokesperson, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, that the convict was arrested after collecting the sum of N50, 000 as gratification from the litigant, following a sting operation by the ICPC.
The anti-graft agency, in the charges alleged that the actions of the convicted magistrate violated Section 8 (a) (ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and was punishable under the same section.
The charge sheet read in part, “That you Mohammed Balogun, sometime in the month of September, 2003 at Abuja, in the discharge of your official duties as a Chief Magistrate, did corruptly ask for the sum of N100, 000 as gratification from one Dr. Isidore Nnadi in order to show favour in the judgment of the cases he had before your court and you thereby committed an offence contrary and punishable under Section 8 (a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
Justice Bello, before sentencing the chief magistrate, lamented that the actions of the convict had brought shame to the judiciary, adding that his sentencing was a clear signal to others that the ongoing reforms in the judiciary would not spare any corrupt judge.
He said, “You are a chief magistrate with great responsibility to provide justice to others, but you have let yourself and the entire judiciary down. In fact, it was the same week you were meant to be elevated to the position of a judge that you committed the crime thereby stopping your promotion.
“Your plea for leniency would not hold water because you deserve an appropriate sentence to send a message to the general public that the judiciary will not condone corruption even among top judicial officers.”
Bello then sentenced him to three years imprisonment with an option of fine of N500, 000.