- from Seye Ojo -
A lawyer, Olorogun Benson Ndakara, has described the recent conviction of the formal governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, in the United Kingdom over money laundering as a shame on the Nigeria’s judiciary. In a brief encounter with Daily Sun, he faulted the country’s judicial system for freeing Ibori from the 170 count-charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against him on technical grounds.
According to him, “This is a very big lesson to our judicial system. In the past, we are all living witnesses when a 170 count-charge was filed against him and the court said he had no case to answer. Now, out of less than 20 count charge filed in UK, he pleaded guilty to them. “And the revelation on the television by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Jacob, has shown those who were interested in the freedom of Ibori despite the fact that he committed the offence in Nigeria. In fact, he made serious allegations against a former Attorney-General of the federation, and it is clear that the then government was interested in freeing Ibori.
“But it has become clear now to everybody that the judiciary was merely used by government to get freedom for Ibori and this is a very sad one for us.” Ndakara, however, said the conviction and sentencing of Ibori to prison in UK was a well-deserved punishment. “Well, I see it as a punishment well-deserved because a man deserves the consequences of his actions. In this case, Ibori deserved this particular punishment, having committed the offence. Ibori has been evading punishment all the while. He used his clout in Nigeria during the former trial. Then, it was a case of conviction without sentencing. On a technical ground, he was freed. But in a foreign land, it is now a lesson to everybody that Ibori is indeed not only a convict but a serial convict as it is and he deserved this particular punishment,” he stated.
Ndakara advised the EFCC to jettison filing 100 or 200 count-charge against any suspect as it could waste court’s time, insisting that the anti-graft agency should look at the charges and be concise.“In fact, before the charges are read, the judge and other people in court are already tired. The business of the court is a serious one. You do not expect a judge to listen to about 200 count-charge. It is spurious. It should be collapsed into manageable size so that they will channel their energy into prosecuting those ones.” Besides, the legal practitioner supported the call for the merger of the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the grounds that the two organisations are related to financial or economic crime.
His words: “There is no point creating two different organisations that are fighting for the same cause with the same level of training, the same set of officers, the same police system, the same qualification and all that. They should be merged.
“Anybody found to have committed an offence under the ICPC could also be tried by the EFCC. Why duplicating them? It is part of the drains in the financial purse of the Federal Government and it shouldn’t be so.”
On the report of the House of Representatives on the oil subsidy, Ndakara averred that the mindboggling revelations was a clarion call to the Federal Government that reduction of the petroleum subsidy was not enough. He added that the subsidy should be removed totally so that the alleged oil cabal would be crushed.No. of Views:308