Apparently frustrated with the Federal Government’s loss of anti-corruption cases in court, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay, has gone beyond heaping the blames on the judiciary and National Assembly to extend it to the Presidency.
Sagay, who had always before now, criticised the judiciary and the lawmakers of frustrating the fight against corruption, has also now blamed the Presidency for lack of diligence and thorough job on how to nail corrupt people, which he says, is part of why the government has continued to lose such cases.
According to him, “The Federal Government, particularly the President and Vice-President, who were elected into office principally to eliminate corruption, must go back to their drawing board, search and scan the constitution and other laws to draw the requisite irresistible power to deal firmly with this terrible scourge of our times, otherwise we are all dead,” he said.
Sagay said this in Abuja on Saturday when he spoke during a programme put together by the National Association of Seadogs (the Pyrates Confraternity), entitled “Feast of Barracuda” with the theme “Critical Review of the Anti-Corruption War in Nigeria: Strategies, Challenges and Prospects.”
He insisted that the judiciary has not helped in the fight against corruption because “today, some judges actually solicit for money. They don’t even wait to be offered money. One of the judges that has been asked by the NJC to go back to work is a constant solicitor of money. He writes to counsel, ‘my mother died yesterday, I need money to bury her'”, the professor of constitutional law lamented.
The PACAC chairman who noted that prior to the return of democracy in the country, there were many notable and incorruptible judges, however lamented that corruption crept into the judicial system with the advent of democracy as judges began to handle election petition cases.
A member of PACAC who also spoke at the event, Professor Femi Odekunle, did not also spare the Presidency on why the Federal Government continues to lose graft cases.
While Odekunle said that the setbacks the Federal Government is encountering on graft war has been due to the fraudulent activities of compromised elements in the judiciary and legislature, he added that a lack of diligence by some senior government officials have also contributed in no small measures.
Specifically, Odekunle wondered how serious the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is committed to the anti-graft war and further questioned the honesty of the Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, who Wednesday discharged and acquitted Senate President Bukola Saraki of all 18 charges levelled against him on false asset declaration case.
Odekunle, who is a professor of criminology, also doubted the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen’s resolve to assist in the corruption fight.
“Does the Presidency realise that routine crime prevention and methodology, instruments and processes are not adequate in fighting corruption in this country? That is, does the Presidency realise that fighting corruption must be a ‘rofo rofo’ fight? That it is not a question of due process, long process, fair hearing and all those that will give you technical justice instead of real justice?
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“It is said that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. In this regard, I ask, what were the details and the resolution of the EFCC matter on Danladi Umar’s bribery case? I don’t know, I’m just asking. Does the DSS possess any information about Danladi Umar on the use or abuse of hard drugs?
“Is there any record that Danladi Umar had been driving and crashing his car under the influence? These are questions that I don’t know the answers to but I want you to investigate.
“Is the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is to lead the anti-corruption fight, going by the way things have been going in the past two years, as committed as others who could have done the job better?
“I have no answers but I believe if they are answered, it will give us an insight into the cause of our current dilemma in the fight against corruption.”
He added, “So, all this ‘arrangee’ between the judiciary, the legislators, and people are saying, ‘We don’t want the APC to be destroyed, Saraki is our own, let us settle our own, party supremacy is better’, we must moderate that.”
Following the Senate President Bukola Saraki’s acquittal by the CCT in an alleged false assets declaration case, and several other graft cases the Federal Government has lost, there have been concerns over the government’s dexterity in prosecuting such graft cases.
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