4th December, 2013
Procurement of affidavits and documents from courts in Lagos has assumed a commercial dimension, as touts and court officials do brisk business by trading with the legal document, irrespective of the veracity of the contents and provisions of the law.
The law stipulates certain conditions for the issuance of affidavits. But those stipulations are daily subverted by touts and court officials, who bend the rules and rob the system of millions in the process.
For age declaration, the law stipulates that no declarant under the age of 50 years could swear to an affidavit personally. He or she is required to come along with an older person, such as the mother, the father, an uncle or an elder brother, who would inform the commissioner about his knowledge of the time the declarant was born as well as provide other necessary data about such person.
This provision of the law is daily subverted as court commissioners sign declarations without following stipulated procedure. This is also the case with other documentations in the court such as loss of items and change of name. The consequence of this is that anyone could simply falsify his or her age or any declaration and still get it signed in court.
The matter is now worsened by touts in court premises, who daily deceive people by issuing them fake affidavits. Many touts make thousands of naira everyday signing these fake documents with their own stamps.
In the past, court authorities tried to solve the problem by arresting touts and their collaborators, who are court officials. The effort significantly checked the problem.
It is, however, sad to note the trend has continued unabated. Thousands of touts now engage in the business as court management looks the other way. We condemn this trend and urge the relevant authorities to find lasting solution to the problem.
People coming to the court to swear affidavits should be guided on which offices to go so as to avoid them becoming victims of touts. Touts who stubbornly continue to engage in fake affidavit business should also be promptly arrested and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
Preferably, a taskforce should be established to continuously check the problem. These measures would hopeful put a final check on the problem and restore to the judicial fund, monies that are subverted from the system.