The Nigerian legal system is one that is fraught with so many loopholes which those who are smart enough are able to sport and maximise to their dubious purposes.
The law also appears to favour the rich more than the poor. A scenario that proves this is a situation where a pauper who is caught stealing is sentenced to incredible jail terms while a corrupt public official who is
arraigned is able to make a plea bargain ,forfeit a little portion of the stolen funds and walks out free with many more.
But how do we really prove a wealthy individual who has successfully pilfered the nation’s common wealth and carefully covered his tracks is made to pay for his sins?
Several cases are out there waiting for due justice to be carried out, but then will they ever be done?
With a legal system that needs the prosecution to prove beyond ‘reasonable doubt’ that the crime has been committed, many thieves are walking free in the society simply because their ‘sins’ couldn’t be proved.
Another big issue is our social values in today’s world. Our nation appears to slowed moved into an era of materialism where we celebrate wealth and riches without verifiable source.
Given the above thinking, the present defense of Nigeria’s former first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan raises many questions.
Former Nigeria’s First Lady Patience Jonathan, on Friday told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that no one has complained that she stole their money.
The former First Lady asked the court to order the release of the $5.7m and N2.4bn seized from her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Lawyer to Mrs Jonathan, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), urged Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to dismiss the application by the EFCC.According to the charges, the EFCC is asking the court to permanently forfeit the money to the Federal Government.
According to Adedipe, it was not right for the anti-graft agency to regard the money as the proceeds of crime, when the former President’s wife had committed no crime.
The lawyer pointed out that Patience received the money as a gift when her husband was in office.
He added, “It is not the law that if the EFCC finds money in an account and it doesn’t like the owner’s face, it comes to court and says ‘forfeit it.
“The government is at liberty to apply for forfeiture but the offence must be stated.”
The senior lawyer told the court that there was no justification for the money to be forfeited to the Federal Government since the anti-corruption body had not proved that the former President’s wife stole money from the government or any individual.
“All that the EFCC said was that they saw money in her account and assumed it was stolen. They didn’t say from who,” he said.
Also, a frontline human rights and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appearing for La Wari Furniture and Baths, whose accounts were also frozen, told the court that the N2.4bn found in his clients’ accounts was legitimate.
He said, “It is settled law that suspicion, no matter how grave, can never amount to legal evidence to prove the guilt or culpability of anyone either in criminal or civil proceedings.
“They have not brought anybody to complain that money is missing. It is not a crime that La Wari Furniture and Baths had made money.’’
However, the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, contended that the money was the proceeds of crime.
He said, “The $5m was not the first respondent’s (Patience’s) legitimate earnings. She was a public servant and a salary earner. The sums cannot be her legitimate income.
“We urge the court to agree with us and forfeit the sum to the Federal Government.”
He said the bank account in which the N2.4bn was found “was shrouded in mystery and fraud”.
Oyedepo said that when questioned by the EFCC, a director of La Wari Furniture and Baths, Mrs Oyewole Yemisi, claimed not to know anything about the company and that her signature was forged.
The question that comes to mind from the above proceedings is if Mrs Jonathan can be said to be free if guilt simply in the strength of her argument.
Can we really say she is free corruption simply because there are no evidences to prove this? How does she stand in the court of the street?And much more,how can we as a nation move up from the point where we seem
to celebrate corruption and evil to that level where
Other Top Politicians Facing Corruption Charges
Several other top public officers within former President Goodluck Jonathan administration are in this same shoe as hers, men and women whom it is public knowledge that their wealth is not commensurate with what the wealth they are displaying.
Allison Diezani Madueke:
Hers is a celebrated corruption case. In what could arguably be the mother of all headlines, the former minister of petroleum has constantly graced the front pages of Nigerian Newspapers for what can only be described as monumental fraud bearing the weight of the whopping sums of money she and her associates allegedly stole.
Some Nigerians who could not stomach the amount of money which she reportedly stole, even called her a Jezebel.
The former minister of petroleum was alleged to have looted over $20b, which was part of the proceeds from Nigeria’s main income generator, crude oil.
N195 Billion Maina Pension Scam:
It is believed that Alhaji Maina misappropriated billions of naira worth of pension funds, which he claimed to have recovered from pension thieves. The senate committee probing pension funds management accused him of mopping up pension funds from banks and depositing the money in his private accounts. According to the committee, this mopping of such funds had made it impossible to pay thousands of pensioners across the country for months. When he was summoned to appear and clear the air on the committee’s findings, Alhaji Maina instituted a N1.5bn case against the senate and the inspector general of police. Things came to a head last week when the senate passed a resolution asking the presidency to sack Alhaji Maina within two days or face its wrath. Although the presidency had initially insisted that only the head of service could sack Maina, it subsequently changed its tone and ordered that disciplinary action should be taken against him for absconding from his duty post without permission.
123bn Naira Fraud – Stephen Oronsaye
A damning report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation has indicted a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, over an alleged N123billion fraud perpetrated during his tenure, between 2009 and 2010. The 169-page report, entitled “Special Audit of the Accounts of the Civil Pensions,” according to an online news medium, Premium Times, found Oronsaye guilty of allegedly presiding over the looting of the nation’s resources during his tenure. The audit by the auditor-general arose from the work of a Special Audit Team constituted by the federal government in May 2011 to conduct a comprehensive examination of the accounts of the Civilian Pension Department domiciled in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The audit, which covered the period 2005 to 2010, uncovered monumental financial irregularities, opaque transactions, irregular and abnormal running costs, and outright stealing and kick backs said to have reached its zenith during the 18 months that Oronsaye served as Head of Service.
Corruption was referred to as a great sin already in the Bible: “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twist the words of the innocent.” However, the history of corruption is in fact related to the beginning of the creation of law and the state and was already in the antiquity considered an evil, which negatively affects the public administration and the functioning of the political system. The earliest records of corruption date back to the thirteenth century BC, to the time of the Assyrian civilization. From the found plates, written in cuneiform, the archeologists managed to discern how and who accepted bribes.
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