The central problem we face is that for decades, perpetrators of grand corruption have been allowed to use specific interpretations of procedures in the principle of Nigeria’s Common Law, to enjoy immunity against conviction for their corrupt action. The legal profession has been largely complicit in the process because they have become financial beneficiaries of the system. In the United Kingdom, the place of origin of our Common Law tradition, the judicial system allows for successful prosecution of corruption. British judges have been able to balance the tradition of the strict interpretation of procedure by introducing the principle of equitable remedy and therefore returning to the merit of the case in delivering their judgements. In their system, justice delayed is also justice denied. Nigerian jurisprudence can learn considerable lessons from this dimension of the British tradition in reviving the capacity of our courts to successfully prosecute cases of corruption.
As the crisis of confidence in the ability of our Common Law tradition to effectively handle anti-corruption cases continues to grow, those of us who are not lawyers have to enter the fray and insist that lawyers who subvert the course of justice to protect corrupt persons must begin to pay a price. We know that in other Common Law countries, their judicial systems are able to effective handle anti-corruption cases. We also know that by the time three or four Senior Advocates of Nigeria have been sent to jail for devising “special purpose vehicles” to facilitate corruption and money laundering, things will begin to change for the better. I understand that some reforms have been carried out that makes it impossible to delay cases interminably through the appeals process. That is not enough; the impunity of lawyers who facilitate corruption must also end. For the anti-corruption struggle to gain its élan, it is imperative that the administration of justice is able to do its work and deliver justice to all. We need to identify the loopholes in Nigeria’s Common Law legal and judicial process that blocks the successful prosecution of anticorruption cases. If President Buhari can successfully lead the reform process in our justice system and lead us to the promised land where the mega looters of our national resources will be hiding in Tibet or Tonga to avoid facing the Nigeria justice system, we will be able to transform our country for the better. In this desired outcome, Senior Advocates of Nigeria would be making their fame, but not as much money, by using their skills and intellect to send the corrupt to jail.