Original Research

‘[T]he prince and the judge ask for a bribe’ (Mi 7:3): Interpreting the Old Testament prophets on bribery in light of the encounter between motorists and law enforcement agents on Nigerian highways

Solomon O. Ademiluka
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2288 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2288 | © 2022 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2021 | Published: 28 February 2022

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria


Transparency International has consistently reported a high level of corruption in sub-Saharan Africa, of which bribery is the commonest aspect. In Nigeria, bribery has been found to be an integral part of the public life of most public officials. This article related the message of the 8th-century prophets of Israel to the Nigerian context in which motorists are forced to pay bribes to law enforcement agents on the highways, and attempted to exonerate the motorists from bribery. The work employed the historical exegesis for the study of the relevant texts, and the descriptive approach for the analysis of bribery on Nigerian highways. The work found that the central context of the 8th-century prophets’ criticism of bribery was in the judicial process in which the court officials took bribes from the rich and denied justice to the poor. The message of the prophets is thus relevant to the current situation of the poor Nigerian motorists. It concluded that given the fact that the police, in particular, forcefully take money from the motorists, it is better described as extortion rather than bribery. In view of the helpless circumstances faced by the motorists, it is unlikely that the prophets would have accused them of bribery, but they certainly would have condemned the law enforcement agents for extortion. Therefore, given their situation, Nigerian motorists being extorted on the highways are not guilty of bribery.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research involves the disciplines of the Old Testament (OT) and Christian ethics. It relates the message of the OT prophets to the Nigerian context in which motorists are forced to give bribes to the law enforcement agents. The article postulates that the motorists are absolved of bribery, given the manner by which money is extorted from them.


bribery; Old Testament prophets; Nigerian highways; law enforcement agents; Nigerian motorists


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Crossref Citations

1. The ‘brown envelope syndrome’: Culture of bribery and ethics at the crossroads
Kelebogile T. Resane
Inkanyiso  vol: 16  issue: 1  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/ink.v16i1.90