OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
The administrative judge of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun yesterday warned lawyers and litigants against paying bailiffs to serve court processes on parties to a suit.
Justice Olatoregun maintained that bailiffs as staffs of the court were not supposed to charge extra fees from litigants to serve court processes.
She also warned that henceforth any lawyer or litigant caught offering court bailiffs money to do their job would be handed over to the police alongside the bailiff.
Leadership reports that it is a common practice by lawyers and litigants who want their court processes served within time to tipped or mobilised court bailiffs.
Most times lawyers who refuse to “settle” them may have their filed abandoned or not treated.
The issue came to the notice of Justice Olatoregun on Tuesday, when a lawyer who appeared before her 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 a bribe. She also sent for the court’s registrar and bailiff.
She said, “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.
The judge also stressed that the bailiffs were paid salaries and allowances to do their jobs and require no further mobilisation.
After sending her registrar to call 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 what sanction would be meted to the bailiff.