The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has scored the nation’s judicial procedure low over what has become rampant in corruption cases, especially those involving top political figures in government, resulting in such cases dragging on for decades on the basis of court injunctions – interlocutory or perpetual.
It is, in fact, fast becoming a tradition for our courts, mostly in high profile cases, to easily succumb to the legal constraints placed in the course of justice, by smart SANS, with the sole aim of stalling the process of justice against their privileged clients, by granting prayers sought by the latter for suspension or outright tying of the hands of justice. Thus, the affected suspects, in spite of whatever serious criminal charges against them, begin to enjoy unbridled freedom to do anything and even to seek further national responsibilities either as appointed or elected public officers. Record is replete with a number of such cases, after been kept in the cooler of injunctions, had paved way to suspected looters of our common wealth to hide under the constitutional maxim of “suspect remains innocent until proved otherwise by a competent court of law”, to further foist themselves on the nation to perpetrate further damage to our existence as a nation.
Dariye’s case of alleged diversion of the ecological fund by him, as the then governor of Plateau State, initially came up in 2007 and just as Nigerians began to follow the case with keen interest, waiting to see where the pendulum of justice would swing, an injunction descended from our judiciary, thus truncating yet another hope of witnessing a practical demonstration of the supremacy of the law and as a respecter of nobody.
CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, has lamented this trend which he described as ridiculous, antithetical and rather unfortunate. “Something fast has to be done to check this very disturbing and embarrassing trend in our judicial system. Imagine someone with very serious criminal allegation hanging around his neck and who has not been cleared of it, still coming around to take top government appointment and even standing for election and getting elected into top and sensitive public office.
Imagine Dariye, becoming a senator? Some even came back to become governors and senators despite the avalanche of criminal allegations against them by the state. Save for providence, who knows; Peter Odili, who, treading on freedom of a perpetual injunction he’s been enjoying since 2007, could have become the president of our dear country then if he had secured his party’s nomination. It will be recalled that despite the gargantuan allegation of financial impropriety against him in court, he went touring the nooks and crannies of the country then, canvassing for support to occupy the No.1 seat of government in Nigeria. What an effrontery?
Quite a good number of serving governors and legislators today have been having one serious cases of corruption or the others in our courts for years but still contested and won new offices of great responsibility and trust. If not for President Buhari, who had remained resolute in his government’s anti-corruption war, cases such as these have virtually been forgotten by the Nigerian public as a result of court injunctions, thus denying justice from taking its course.
Worsestill are instances whereby a serving public officer, when invited to render his/her stewardship, by the representatives of the same people that elected the government into office, would quickly run to the court asking that such invitation be invalidated and sadly, the court grants his prayer. Such development should be stopped forthwith as it cannot secure a place in any democratic setting. It’s in fact, an insult to democracy.
Incidences of ex-minister, Mrs. Dezeani Madueke and NSE’s director-general, Mrs. Aruma Ote, among other similar cases, which succeeded in turning down the senate’s invitation on the strength of court injunctions, remain a point of reference.
CACOL is therefore calling, for the umpteenth time, on all the relevant authorities to, without delay, begin to work on how to review our judicial procedure with a view to ensuring that all the impediments placed in the way of justice dispensation, especially as respect public accountability and probity, be removed so as to pave way for quick but effective dispensation of justice. For President Buhari to succeed in his anti-corruption crusade, the enabling environment for law and justice to thrive is essential.