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Reactions to James Ibori’s Jail Sentence in UK from Nigerian lawyers and social critics

April 23, 2012

The jailing of former Delta State governor, James Ibori (which has become an embarrassment to the country) has continued to attract reactions from members of the bar and civil society in Nigeria.

Professor Itse Sagay, constitutional lawyer, opines that Ibori’s sentence was right, stating that it was an indictment on the Attorney-General and judge that shielded him from justice in Nigeria. He suggested that if he had been tried in Nigeria, he would have gotten a milder sentence. “The sentence was harsh if compared to the one he would have gotten in Nigeria. If they had allowed things to happen in Nigeria, it will have been better and our dirty linen wouldn’t have been washed outside,” he said.

Femi Falana, lawyer and human rights activist, reckons that Ibori was acquitted, despite the clasping evidence to the contrary because he had judges in his pocket. He claimed that the court in Delta State freed him because two commissioners had paid them off in kind. “One commissioner sold his own house to build the court and another one sold his house to build the Judge’s quarters because money for the building of the court was not part of the budget for the year,” he argued.

Ibori’s sentencing has exposed Nigeria’s love for corruption and government’s weakness to fight it, Festus Keyamo argued. The human rights lawyer said the government must hide its face in shame. He cited the case against the Comptroller-General of Customs, as one that is yet to be addressed despite evidence of forged certificate.

He added that the anti-corruption agencies and judges are corrupt and cannot genuinely punish corrupt politicians. “The judge who has to decide your case earns pittance. It’s the recommendation of politicians that earn them an appointment into the judiciary,” he stated.

Giwa Amu, Lagos lawyer, didn’t differ much from other lawyers’ views. But he thinks the Nigerian judicial system stands condemned. He said Ibori was freed in Nigeria but sentenced in the UK, meaning the judiciary had failed in its duties. “Justice should not be for the highest bidder as it was seen in the Ibori case. It is also a warning to the country’s leaders who have turned themselves to scavengers,” he explained.

Barrister Supo Osewa’s proposition is that of Nigeria’s dented image as a nation and the embarrassment directed at Delta State. He hopes the judgement will serve as a deterrent to other public office holders. “Justice may be delayed but will come some day. Curses are like chicken, they will surely come home to roost,” he argued.

The submission of Yinka Odumakin, a member of Save Nigeria Group, is that Nigeria will be laughed to scorn by other countries across the world. “When we list a candidate for the World Bank job, we need to have strengthened our anti-graft war,” he said.

Joe Okei-Odumakin, national president, Campaign for Democracy, agrees with Odumakin’s assertion. She explained that Ibori’s sentencing was an indictment because he was given a clean sheet in Nigeria. She argued that it exposed the lapses in the anti-corruption war in Nigeria. “The whole world now knows that Ibori is a thief. Our anti-corruption drive must be shored up.”

Abiodun Sowunmi, social critic added that the judgment indicted the Supreme Court, which threw out late Gani Fawehinmi’s suit against Ibori. “See the case of Orji Uzor Kalu and Ayo Fayose, they have been in court before the Ibori case, but they are walking free,” he lamented.

Reiterating Sowunmi’s claims, Ike Uko, former Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Lagos branch, said it was a wake-up call. “It means the judicial sector is not performing its functions. Shoddy investigation, not too thorough prosecutions have marred our judiciary. We need to reorganise it. What the judgement portends for us is that we really need to overhaul our judicial system.”

Barrister Ade Oyebamiji was furious at the judiciary for failing in their duties. He believes that the verdict is a very big success to the war against corruption.

—Seun Bisuga

Culled from TheNews of Monday 23rd April 2012

One Comment leave one →
  1. Regan union permalink
    April 24, 2012 20:52

    The state of corruption in nigeria has caused the judiciary to loose reputation.

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