The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to refer high profile corruption cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and possible prosecution.
It said there was need for effective investigation and prosecution of high-ranking public officials charged with corruption and a judiciary willing and able to adequately play its own interpretative role.
According to SERAP, except this is achieved, “this government’s fight against corruption may sadly turn out to be all motion and no movement”, which will turn out to undermine the legitimacy of the anticorruption efforts.
SERAP made the call following a string of court rulings against high-profile corruption cases last week, which outcomes were not favourable to the government.
The organisation, in a statement released on Sunday and signed by SERAP deputy director, Timothy Adewale, urged President Buhari to “adopt a revolutionary approach to his government’s fight against corruption.”
Part of the statement read, “As a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the government should also consider drawing from the expertise, experience, and international best practices of the court to complement the mandates and powers of our anti-corruption agencies and judiciary to successfully and satisfactorily investigate, prosecute and hear high-profile corruption cases.
“Without effective investigation and prosecution of high-ranking public officials charged with corruption, and a judiciary that is willing and able to satisfactorily play its own interpretative role, this government’s fight against corruption may sadly turn out to be all motion and no movement, and this will eventually undermine the legitimacy of the anticorruption efforts.
“The latest setbacks in the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases show the need for effective enforcement measures to weed out, expose, and punish grand corruption in the country. Referring large-scale corruption cases to the International Criminal Court would in the short-medium term improve deterrence, and at the minimum demonstrate a symbolic commitment to confront grand corruption head on.
“SERAP believes that radical and more robust criminal enforcement measures are necessary to appreciably improve anti-corruption efforts, including by equipping, empowering and providing opportunities for training and re-training of those charged with the investigation and prosecution of large-scale corruption so that they can fearlessly, impartially, efficiently and energetically enforce anti-corruption laws and ensure justice for the countless victims of corruption in the country.”
“It should not be the case that only petty offenders are successfully prosecuted while high profile corrupt officers escape punishment and justice. Prosecuting the ‘small fry’ and leaving the ‘big fish’ to go unpunished would send a particularly damaging message about the government’s commitment to end large-scale official corruption, legitimise offenders’ impunity, and clearly violate the underlying legal and moral assumptions that a government will treat all persons equally, fairly, and with respect.”
The government’s anti-corruption fight received a heavy setback last week following court rulings on cases involving Chief Mike Ozekhome, former First Lady and wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience; Justice Adeniyi Ademola and Godsday Orubebe.
They all won their corruption cases against the Federal Government.
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