A legal practitioner and notary public, Olugbenga Akinlabi, has advised Nigerians to refrain from issuing and obtaining falsified affidavits during the ongoing judiciary workers’ strike.
Recall that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria embarked on a nationwide strike on April 6, 2021, demanding financial autonomy for the judiciary and requiring that all courts in Nigeria remain closed.
The effect of this is that staff such as commissioners for oaths and judges, who should issue court documents, have been unavailable.
While speaking with The PUNCH on Wednesday about the current practice of issuing falsified affidavits, Akinlabi said, “I need to make this clarification. Affidavits are usually issued from two sources ― either from the court or from a legal practitioner who is duly qualified to certify documents, known as a notary public. As a result of the ongoing judiciary workers’ strike, many affidavits that you see having court stamps have been fraudulently obtained.
“Most times, you can easily spot people hanging around court premises offering services that only a notary public can provide. Some of the documents issued by these people go as far as carrying court stamps. This constitutes an act of fraud as forgery of court documents is prohibited.”
“There are departments in courts responsible for different roles, all for the promotion of justice. Any person seeking to obtain an affidavit from the court would have to pay the statutory fees. Once this is done, the proof of payment is taken to the finance department for verification, after which the commissioner for oaths authorises and signs the affidavit.”
Akinlabi continued, “Seeing that the courts are closed, the right thing for anyone to do is to go to a notary public to obtain affidavits needed for any official purpose. I am also a notary public, but I do not use court stamps.”
“Any document which has been forged or illegally obtained is invalid. Nigerians should refrain from engaging in illegal activities.
“It should be noted that the forgery of documents is a punishable offence, and falsification of court documents in Nigeria is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.”