BY FRANCIS OKOYE
Dr C.J Ubanyionwu, Associate dean of law, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam Campus has revealed ways that president Buhari led government can fight corruption using the judiciary and other means.
He stated that with the present state of the law, it would be very difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. ‘The law and the manner in which it is applied in our law courts at the present time, make it nearly impossible to recover stolen loots and put an end to rampant corruption. Now, the issue of interlocutory injections, stay of executions and fundamental rights should be looked into before we can make any progress in the fight against corruption. In fact this legal mechanism should not apply in corruption cases.
‘I will give you an example- in subcommittee of the house of representatives, they had issued a comprehensive report on the oil subsidy mega-scam of 2011, in which the names of all those who had wrongfully and illegally benefited from the scam had been published, together with the astronomical sums that each of this Nigerians had looted. They had all without exception tied up the cases pertaining to their persecution in the law courts by all manners of so called ‘interlocutory injunctions’ and ‘stay of execution’ writ. That was in the year 2013, we are now in 2015 and those cases are still tied up in the law court and not a single one of the men and women indicated in that oil subsidy mega scam has either paid a kobo back or gone to jail. Consider the 2.52 Trillion Naira that was looted in the oil subsidy mega scam. Consider the fact that not a kobo of that loot has been recovered and consider the number of lives that would have been saved or made richer and more fulfilled if a fraction of that money had been privately spent to create jobs, build roads, improve hospitals and raise the quality of teaching in our secondary schools. Some of our laws need to be changed for us to fight this corruption effectively.’
He also identified other obstacles in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The legal expert asked “who and who are fighting this corruption? He who goes to equity must go to equity with clean hands .From what we read from newspapers, Jonathan administration shared about 500 houses to his cronies and some of those who are at the helm of fighting corruption benefited from that? What I am saying is this, since the EFCC Chairman was alleged to have benefited from that, he should resign immediately or that the present federal government should drive him out from the EFCC and get a person with impeccable integrity to lead the fight against corruption.
Dr Ubanyionwu revealed that some people are crying and are saying that the fight against corruption is a witch hunting exercise against the Igbo race, but that he totally disagrees saying ‘I have a lot of respect for Prof. Nwabueze and his co travelers in the Igbo leaders of thought. They should leave Buhari alone, to known whether we can make progress in this fight against corruption. Whosoever that participated in the looting of this nation, be he an Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba, should go and answer the EFCC, and if need be, exonerate self from the allegation of corruption?
According to him, enabling acts have now been enacted by the National Assembly: what is required now is for the Bill to be forwarded to Buhari for them to be signed and made into effective laws. The bills am talking about are the witness protection Bill, whistle blowers bill passed by the National Assembly towards the tail end of past Administration. Administration of justice Act 2015 had equally been enacted. Under that Act the granting of stay of proceedings and other delay tactics had been banned, in the trial of criminal cases. Trial of criminal cases shall be concluded within 6months unless they are exceptional circumstance which may prolong the trial beyond. Under that act, the elevation of trial judges to court of appeal will no longer lead to trial de novo-that is fresh trial before other judges, as judges would be given the fiat/power to conclude part hard matters. If this law is effectively applied, it would go a long way in seeing timemeous determination of criminal cases including corruption cases.
On how he sees the fight against corruption so far by president Buhari, Dr Ubanyionwu has this to say ‘this is the first time in the history of Nigeria, where an elected president is beaming his search light on the canker worm that has retarded the development of this country. Nigeria is in comatose today because of the actions of our political leaders. Nigeria has the potentials of a leading economy in the world.
A minister in the immediate past administration was reported to have stolen 6 billion dollars, what is he doing with such amount of money? That is complete madness – that minister should be taken to a psychiatric hospital for adequate checkups. We have to commend president Buhari for his courage so far in fighting corruption – more grease to his elbow?