FCT judges accuse chief justice of stealing multibillion-naira allowances

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The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory finds itself entangled in a crisis marked by allegations of corruption and personnel grievances, with profound implications for the administration of justice in the nation’s capital.

In an unusual move, several judges have revealed to People’s Gazette the distressing experiences they endured under the leadership of Chief Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf.

During discreet interviews conducted over a span of seven weeks, five judges from the court expressed deep concerns about the mismanagement of resources within their division, which has left judicial officers struggling in the midst of widespread hardship exacerbated by President Bola Tinubu’s decision to eliminate petrol subsidies in an attempt to prevent a broader economic crisis.

These judges further accused Mr. Baba-Yusuf of exploiting their meager allowances, resulting in their courtrooms lacking essential support personnel and equipment. They described the Chief Justice’s management style as akin to treating the court as his personal estate, and they felt generally disregarded and disrespected, likening their treatment to that of “secondary school boys.”

Accounts gathered by The Gazette indicate that the judges are alarmed that this neglect could increase their vulnerability to bribery, even though they vehemently asserted their commitment to upholding justice and their willingness to resign rather than compromise their principles.

Since 2007 when President Umar Yar’Adua raised the salaries of FCT judges from N200,000 to N530,000 monthly (roughly $600), no reviews have been conducted, much less approved, they said.

Consequently, the judges said their struggle to work effectively, feed or provide quality education for their children has made it difficult for them to administer justice for millions in the district and even tempted their sacrosanct allegiance to rectitude.

“We regularly sit on cases involving individuals and companies accused of stealing billions, and most of them have agents that usually try to bribe judges in order to influence court decisions,” one of the judges said. “Yet we cannot even feed ourselves or compromise our constitutional oath to guarantee a decent living.”

The judges’ grievances against Chief Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf mirror concerns previously raised by Supreme Court justices in 2022. The Supreme Court justices had accused their then-chief justice, Tanko Muhammad, of irresponsibility and moral decay for withholding utility and data allowances. Tanko Muhammad resigned following these accusations. It remains uncertain whether Baba-Yusuf will face a similar fate.

Additionally, Baba-Yusuf faces allegations of not providing judges with the necessary equipment and personnel, resulting in a significant backlog of unresolved cases. According to judges, over the last quarter, more than 1,000 cases have made no progress on the court’s docket.

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