Impunity At FCT Judiciary As Magistrates Sworn-In Without Courts

At least 35 magistrates employed and sworn-in since December 21, 2020 may be receiving salaries and allowances without doing anything, THE WHISTLER investigation has revealed.

The appointment of the 40 new magistrates increased the number of Magistrates in the FCT to 88 but there are only 48 courts currently sitting.

This website was informed during investigations that many of the new magistrates were “idling around and just receiving salaries” because they do not have enough courts to accommodate them.  

This website was told that the immediate past Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hon. Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, hurriedly sworn-in 40 persons as Magistrates without following due process, which include issuing public notices and releasing names of the appointees.

But none of these was done until after the magistrates had been sworn-in.

A statement on the FCT High Court website said the appointments were made In order “to enhance justice delivery and speedy trials in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja,” but some lawyers of the Court who spoke to THE WHISTLER off-the-record said the appointments were done due to “gross impunity” because it was not done based on need.

A Magistrate is the head of his/her court with support staff like Court Registrars, Baliffs, Court Clerks, Clerical Officers, Secretary, Messengers and police orderly. They adjudicate over both criminal and civil cases and perform other adhoc duties including presiding in Mobile Courts, where they adjudicate over Traffic and Environmental matters.

But Sharon Ishaya Tanko, the Director, Department of Magistrates, who spoke to THE WHISTLER on the matter, said the remaining magistrates were “on attachment.”

She said newly appointed magistrates were expected to go through a period of attachments ranging from three to six months after which they would become presiding officers.

“Magistrates are appointed when there’s need for them and the facilities are there,” she said.

But when asked whether there are courts for those on attachments to preside after their training, Tanko said “even if there’s no court, we can rent apartments.”

While she confirmed that only 48 magistrates are currently holding court, she insisted that no one was being paid for doing nothing.