Daily Trust - - OPINION -

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.

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