By Kini Nsom
After the recommendations of the Higher Judicial Council, on December 8, President Paul Biya is expected slam heavy sanctions on some 13 magistrates who were found to be corrupt in the exercise of their duties.The nine members of the Council passed the verdict after scrutinising the files of magistrates involved in professional misdemeanours or outright felonies that constitute an affront to the delivery of justice.
The meeting that took place at the Unity Palace spanned over six hours. A source said the meeting was unprecedented in that President Biya who chaired it sat in throughout, conducting debates and equally giving his opinion on issues.
Biya is said to have listened to all the opinions of the rest of the eight members of the council and took sides with the majority that proposed heavy sanctions on corrupt magistrates.
According to our sources, President Biya was emphatic that no nonsense will be tolerated in the judiciary, especially with magistrates who think that they can violate the law with no impunity. According to a member of the council, most magistrates who are going to be sanctioned were found guilty of professional misconduct, abuse of office, unjustified absences and acts of corruption.
In one of such cases, The Post learnt, a magistrate was found to guilty of partiality while passing judgement on a succession question. Many magistrates were equally found guilty of having misapplied the law while others had to do the surreptitious modifications of adjournment dates.
The Judicial Council examined the files after a committee set by President Biya in his capacity as chairman of the council, conducted preliminary investigations into the matter. It examined petitions bordering on the allegations of malpractices in the judiciary.
It is not known what type of sanctions would be slammed on the 13 magistrates. But The Post learnt that such sanctions range from warning to outright dismissal without financial dues.
Other disciplinary sanctions on magistrates have to do with delay in advancement in their careers, removal from duty post, demotion, temporary exclusion from service for maximum of six months, dismissal with right to pension and dismissal without right to pension.
The 13 magistrates who are expected to be sanctioned are only known to members of the Higher Judicial Council. The Post learnt that their names and the disciplinary sanctions against them would only be published in the official gazette.
Speaking to The Post shortly after the meeting, Hon. Paulinus Jua who is one of the three Members of Parliament in the Council, said they are bent in cleaning the judiciary. He said the sanctions meted out on some magistrates carries with them a message that, "that the magistrate applies the law, but is not above the law.
If a magistrate ask money from you simply write a complaint to the Minister of Justice. He will open investigations and the magistrate will be sanctioned," Jua said.
The Higher Judicial Council that meets once a year is made of three MPs, three Magistrates, one independent personality, the Minister of Justice and the President of the Republic.