The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagey, SAN, has declared that the judiciary is not on board in the fight against corruption.
Sagey, a professor of Law, made the declaration yesterday at the end of a 3-day conference on promoting international co-operation in combating illicit financial flows and enhancing asset recovery in Abuja.
He said that PACAC was going to talk with the judiciary so that they will reason along with the executive.
Sagay said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government will account for every kobo that was recovered, adding that “under Buhari there will be no re-loot of the recovered loot.”
Joseph Otteh, executive director Access to Justice during a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday said that it is very difficult to declare that the judiciary is not on board in the fight against corruption, adding that it might be that judiciary needs to show a stronger commitment to stamping out corruption within its fold.
“If the judiciary is not very clean with a high level of integrity, it is not going to play a major part in the anti-corruption effort of the federal government.”
“Oversight institutions in the judiciary should show more decisiveness to show that judiciary is seen not to accommodate people who have question of integrity in its fold.
“The kind of en-bloc recall does not serve judiciary very well. A lot of information about what has happened to the judges is in public, so Nigerians are watching and getting information as to transactions involving judiciary.
“Even if a criminal court does not convict a judge, there should be a standard of Code of Conduct for judiciary. Hence judiciary should be very clinical in its approach to stamping out corruption. Even when judges are not convicted, judiciary should still ask question about Code of Conduct for judicial officers.
“Institutional disposition is in the mind of Prof. Sagey who has not seen enough commitment on the part of the judiciary.
The A2J boss said that judiciary can do a lot more to build public confidence.
“We don’t expect judiciary to apply technical rule of court which are very conservative and too technical for the work at hand and which will not help judiciary rebuild public faith in the institutions of judiciary”, Joseph Otteh said.
However the executive Secretary PACAC Professor Bolaji Owasanoye disagreed with Sagay’s opinion. The point of difference according to Owasanoye is how to deal with corruption, because every agency of government would say that it is fighting corruption.
“I do not fully agree with him, yes he is right because we have not fully converged on the way forward. The executive will have its approach and the judiciary and legislature will have its approach so also the federal, State and Local Governments will have their approach. We are working towards a convergence and the truth of the matter is that things may be slow on the side of the judiciary and we could easily say the same on the side of the prosecution. The prosecution has not got its acts together and we have seen some avoidable mistakes that points at delay but the good thing is that there is a conversation as he said and we will help ourselvies to see that this is in our common interest. Everybody agrees that we must end corruption and the major conversation is the best and most profitable approach to move forward.
“Some would say we should forget about what has happened but others may say no we should look into past cases and demand for accountability from those who put us where we are. So we have to make up our mind if we can truly change the system without sanction and enforcement. Some people think we can move forward by saying sorry and live happily thereafter. We would definitely reach a convergence.”
Justice Ademola resumes despite FG appeal
Justice Adeniyi Ademola resumed duties on Tuesday barely 24 hours after the Federal Government appealed the court ruling that acquitted him of corruption charges.
Shortly after filing the appeal yesterday the government insisted that Justice Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, should stay away from work until the case is determined.
Justice Ademola was one of seven judges accused of corruption but cleared by the National Judicial Council (NJC). Six of them resumed duty yesterday.
The judges were arrested by agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) during a raid on their homes on October 8, 2016 but most of them were not charged to court.
The others recalled are: Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court; Justice Uwani Abba Aji of the Court of Appeal; Hydiazira Nganjiwa and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court and Justice Agbadu James Fishim of National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Justice Okoro, who has since resumed office at the Supreme Court, is expected to be on the panel to hear some cases tomorrow and Monday.
Justice Ademola on yesterday presided over seven cases, among them the case brought by his co-defendant in the corruption trial, Joe Agi (SAN).
The case by Agi, which is between Undie Pius and two others and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was the first case called by the judge.
The judge and his wife Olabowole and the lawyer were arreigned on a 15 count charge of money laundering, bribery and unlawful possession of firearms.
They were however acquitted by Justice Jude Okeke of the FCT High Court on a no case submission.
When the case was called Agi told the court that he was withdrawing the matter. The judge acceded to the application, and the case was struck out.
The judge went on to hear six other cases, including that of J.K. Gadzama LLP and three others versus the Bureau of Public Procurement; Yak Essien and three others versus NITEL and two others and Emmanuel Ebite versus Timipre Sylva and two others.
Special Adviser to the President on Prosecution, Okoi Obono Obla, Tuesday in an interview with Daily Trust, criticised the NJC for recalling the judge, maintaining that it acted to subvert his planned re-arraignment.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), through its General Secretary, Isiaka Olagunju said the stand of the association as approved at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Lokoja is that being on suspension for long without a formal charge violated the fundamental rights of the judges.
“However, this does not mean that the judges can still not be arraigned whenever prosecution is ready instead of keeping them in suspense,” he said.