Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), on Wednesday advocated for stiff punishment for counsels, especially Senior Advocates, who obstruct and frustrate proceedings in high-profile corruption cases.
Sagay said such punishment for SANs must include denial of right of appearance in such high-profile and grand corruption cases.
He stated at Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)’s latest media round table titled: Strategies and Approaches for the Successful Completion and Effective Prosecution of Abandoned and Unresolved High Profile Cases of Corruption in Nigeria. Combating Grand Corruption and Impunity in Nigeria.
The round table held in Ikeja, Lagos, is organised in collaboration with TrustAfrica.
In his paper, Sagay also urged prosecuting counsels in grand corruption cases “to apply to reinstate any case struck out for want of prosecution. In cases requiring appeal, the authorities must apply for leave to appeal out of time, and prepare evidence and legal arguments thoroughly, including by inviting consultants to advise.”
According to Sagay, prosecuting authorities must “Insist on full application of Sections 306 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, namely: No stay of proceedings under any circumstances – S. 306.Any preliminary objection must be taken together with the substantive issue – S. 396(2), and hearings shall be on a daily basis, but in exceptional cases, adjournments not to be in excess of 14 working day, may be granted. Such adjournments not to exceed 5 in any proceedings – S. 396 (3) and (4).”
Sagay also recommended that, “A High Court Judge who is elevated whilst presiding over a criminal case, should be allowed to conclude the case without any effect on his new status. The Head of various Courts, namely Chief Justice of Nigeria; President, Court of Appeal; Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; and Chief Judges of State High Courts, should be sensitised about the very critical nature of the fight against high-level official corruption to Nigeria’s development and the welfare of its peoples.”
Other recommendations by the PACAC chairman read in part: “Pending the establishment of a Special Crimes Court for the whole country, Criminal Divisions should be created in the Federal and State High Courts. Specially vetted and selected Judges, known for integrity and self-discipline should be posted to man such Courts.”
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ogun State, Mr. Olumide Ayeni, who chaired the event, said, “Any person who loves this society will welcome and attend events of this nature. It is a very important subject we are here to discuss, to find ways of addressing the cankerworm that has evaded our society.”
Speaking also, Mr Okoi Obolo- Obla, Special Assistant on Prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari, who represented the Attorney General of the Federation and
Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), said, “I admire what SERAP is doing. It is not Buhari’s work to fight corruption alone, it is all our fight. It is corruption that is fueling this agitation by the different groups.”