The Anti-Corruption War: Lost Cases and a Lost Cause, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
…justice is not swift in Nigeria as depicted by the sword. Saraki used several tricks to prolong his case and frustrate the administration of justice at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and it is perfectly legal. There is no reason prolonging our agony. Buhari’s anti-corruption war is a charade, a lost cause!
Something is fundamentally wrong when you’ve got yahoos prosecuting cases on behalf of the federal government. Within a week, the federal government has been thoroughly disgraced by losing badly investigated and prosecuted cases. The losses are extraordinary and totally unprecedented. This is the biggest stream of lost cases by the federal government in history. Justice Ademola’s case was not even heard but simply thrown out for lack of merit! Even to a layman, some of the charges were watery and premised on wrong-headed and laughable legal theories.
This government is becoming a huge display of moral idiocy. If the war on corruption is lost, what exactly will be the achievement of this government? This is how mediocrity haunts Nigeria and works against its interests. The lost cases showcase mediocrity at work. Clearly, some people are not doing their jobs well enough. This is not about judges taking bribes or the accused hiring good defence attorneys. It is about federal prosecutorial incompetence. Why was the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) inaugurated if they did not work on these cases? On May 27, 2016 when this committee was inaugurated, the vice president told the members they had “the responsibility to exercise prosecutorial power independently and without any direction except of course from the learned Attorney-General who is the constitutional and prosecutorial authority in the country.”
What has been the input of the NPCC in these cases. From the feelers I got from the insiders, the answer is NONE! The Committee members are competent legal brains drawn from the world over. The vice president, at the inauguration, further said that the selection process took into consideration not only their legal skills and learning, but also their integrity and strength of character in order to chart a new course in the nation’s criminal justice system. One of them is an eminent lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service, the Director of Public Prosecution is a member, including many experienced and distinguished lawyers. Apparently the Committee was not allowed to work. There is internal resistance from the ministry of justice. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bungled the cases, as usual, by seeking public glory instead of undertaking painstaking investigations and the gathering of evidence. The other arms of law enforcement are equally mirred in a culture of lower execrable standards. Even the minister of justice is engaged in territorial fights and tiny plots of subversion. This is a disgrace!
It is rather sad that the anti-corruption war has become an embarrassing joke or at best a nebulous race. The president staged his own defeat by shielding Abba Kyari from the MTN bribe allegation and Babachir Lawal from the grass cutting scandal.
Will Professor Yemi Osinbajo fold his arms and let this continue or is this beyond his pay grade? This Committee was set up to help perfect and effect the prosecution of criminal cases related to the types that the government lost this week. Who is responsible for charging these cases to court? Who brought the lawyers who led the prosecution? Is the vice president aware? Is the minister of Justice aware? If yes, what did they do? The NPCC, the Ministry of Justice and investigative bodies were supposed to coordinate among themselves, so the government would not be disgraced. The Committee was formed to bring economic saboteurs to justice. What happened to the mission and vision behind its formation?
People should be sanctioned for these lapses, but in Nigeria nothing will happen. It will be business as usual until another case is bungled. Either by design or purpose, the justice system in Nigeria is rigged. The system does not work in the interest of Nigerians. Little wonder no one buys into the idea of justice, thus becoming difficult for people to relate to and support. If the Committee is not allowed to work, how can it put in place an enduring prosecutorial legacy that is world class? Given the nature and enormity of corruption, economic crimes, the amount of money involved and the influence of those to be prosecuted, Nigeria needs people with excellent legal skills, as found in the Committee, and men and women of strong character and courage who will not only be able to turn down inducements of any kind but also act without consideration for ethnic, religious or any other affiliation.
It is rather sad that the anti-corruption war has become an embarrassing joke or at best a nebulous race. The president staged his own defeat by shielding Abba Kyari from the MTN bribe allegation and Babachir Lawal from the grass cutting scandal. The cliché comes to life yet again: Those who want equity must come with open hands. The moral force of judicial systems – Lady Justice – comes blindfolded, holding a scale in one hand and a sword in another. In Nigeria, the scale often tilts in favour of criminals because of corruption. We pervert the concept of the blindfold, which represents impartiality. Our justice system is thoroughly partial. Punishment is only meant for the poor. Those with wealth, power or status are often exonerated. Of course, justice is not swift in Nigeria as depicted by the sword. Saraki used several tricks to prolong his case and frustrate the administration of justice at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and it is perfectly legal. There is no reason prolonging our agony. Buhari’s anti-corruption war is a charade, a lost cause!
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo