Court warns lawyers, litigants not to bribe bailiffs


Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday warned lawyers and litigants against paying bailiffs to serve court processes on parties to a suit.

The judge said the bailiffs were not supposed to charge extra fees from litigants to serve processes.

Read also: Lawyers know corrupt judges, says Falana

It is taken as a norm that bailiffs have to be tipped or mobilised if they are to deliver lawsuits to the defendants.

Lawyers who refuse to “settle” them may have their filed abandoned or not treated. Yesterday, a lawyer who appeared before the judge in a case complained that the defendants were yet to be served even though he “mobilised” the bailiffs.

Justice Olatoregun asked the lawyer: “Did you say you mobilised them? How much did you give them let me know if it was enough?”

The lawyer said he gave the bailiffs N8,000.

The judge threatened to order the lawyer’s arrest for offering an bribe. She also sent for the court’s registrar and bailiff.

“When you give a bribe, both of you are liable. We’ll get the Chief Registrar. You will be handed over to the police for bribing a bailiff. You will explain how you have been bribing bailiffs.

“That is how you will be collecting money from SANs when you become a judge,” she said.

Justice Olatoregun, who is the Administrative Judge of the court’s Lagos Division, said bailiffs were paid salaries and allowances to do their jobs and require no further mobilisation.

After sending her registrar to send for the Deputy Chief Registrar, she said she was going to deal with the matter in her chambers.
It could not be confirmed if she eventually ordered the lawyer’s arrest or if the bailiff would face sanction.

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