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How does Iboris conviction abroad portray Nigerias judiciary?

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NEWS: How does Iboris conviction abroad portray Nigerias judiciary? [New Naija News] » Naijacrawl
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Funke Adekoya (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)I wouldnt say it portrays the Nigeria judiciary in any particular way.


The judiciary has to work with the information that is presented to it. So, I think the issue really is the investigative processes. It is not a question of lapses, perhaps, on the prosecution side of it. Assuming for the sake of argument that there was any effort or intention to ensure that Ibori is not convicted; if you dont give the judiciary a good case, he will not be convicted. If you give the judiciary a good case, no matter how you try to ensure that he is not convicted, the judge will say my hands are tied.

I think that the perspective we should look at is that the judgment in the Ibori case abroad shows that we still have a lot of work to do in our investigative and prosecutorial arm. If the problem of investigation and prosecution is taken away from it, then any other thing becomes a secondary issue. If the prosecution presents a solid case and the judiciary still does not take a decision that should come from the case, then you can complain. But if the prosecution has not presented a solid case, what are you blaming the judiciary for?

Nella Andem-Rabana (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)In Nigeria, we have a way of almost maligning and devaluing one another. We devalue the judiciary at will and I do not think it is correct. Basically, it is what you present to the judiciary that the judiciary will rule on. Even as a human being who has his own opinion, you can only give judgment based on the materials before you. Most of the time, things are presented in strange ways, even the prayers you have might be strange and that is why sometimes people will articulate prayers or claims that must fail out of necessity even when they know that the person is guilty. Again, sometimes I think that the press will also need to weigh the issues the way they are. It is not enough that Ibori was not convicted in Nigeria because you do not know under what kind of political tension the judge operated. The judge sometimes could get frustrated even when in his/her heart of heart he/she is sure that the man is guilty. As a professional though, a judge is suppose to apply just the rules with the materials before him/her. I am not happy about this whole argument because it is so easy to throw mud at the faces of Nigerian judges, but believe me, a lot of them do their work professionally. The circumstances under which they operate may be responsible for the outcomes. If you recall when Ibori was in Nigeria, it was not clear which of the matters he was being prosecuted for.

Mr. Dayo Akinlaja (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)In the case of Ibori and other cases, the Nigerian judiciary and that of Britain are not the same. The indices are clearly different. So, all I can say is that the Nigerian judiciary is trying in its own way to do what is expected of it under the constitution of the land but it must be acknowledged that we are faced with our own peculiar circumstances and limitations. By reason of such circumstances and limitations, we are not as near-perfection as the system out there would be. But the point must be reiterated that if the facts and circumstances dictate that a conviction should be made, there is no way anybody could escape conviction in Nigeria even with the limitations that characterise our own system.

However, it would soon be better in this country; there is always a first time. So, I believe that when the right case comes up, I am very sure that anybody that commits an offence would be jailed. There is nothing the court can do if the evidence before it does not demand conviction. The way our judicial system works it is considered better to allow as many as 20 people to go unpunished of a crime committed than for one innocent person to be wrongly convicted. So, that is why it is indicated in our constitution that the guilt of an accused person must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. So, the expectation is that the prosecution, once it is convinced that the particular matter should be taken to court, should be able to do all that is needful to ensure that the guilt of that particular person is proved beyond reasonable doubt. If it is not proved beyond reasonable doubt, it is only fair and proper that the person should not be convicted. In short, I will say our judicial system is, no doubt, a perfect one but the good thing I can tell you is that all hands appear to be on deck in ensuring that we move near perfection but how soon we will get it right no one can say.

Peter Olorunnisola (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)

I cannot say how it portrays the Nigerian judiciary; we do not know what facts were presented here and what attitude Nigerian witnesses presented here and the authorities here because it is not the judiciary alone that will prosecute.

The authorities and people who present the evidence, if they do not present sufficient evidence, the court cannot convict.

One may say that he was arraigned in a Nigerian court and was let off the hook while he was charged and convicted in a United Kingdom court, but are the counts that he was charged with here the same as he was charged with in the United Kingdom? You have to know whether they are the same counts and the same offences.

What constitutes money laundering in Nigeria might not be what constitutes money laundering in the UK. So, you cannot be too sure.

There is the need to ensure efficiency in the prosecution of matters in Nigeria. The basic thing about Nigerians is that some people are dishonest. The integrity of every Nigerian is the question now. A man will stick out his neck to go and give evidence and then the opponent will destroy him, so people are afraid. The integrity of Nigerians is what is as stake in every segment of our lives and that is why we are not moving ahead as we should. Nobody wants to take risk.

Yusuf Ali (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)For me, and I have said it several times, the way crime is investigated in Nigeria is different from the way it is investigated outside the country. Before a suspect is taken to court in the United Kingdom, there would have been a watertight case. All the facts and figures would have been made and tied up. They dont take you to court and start looking for evidence thereafter.

It is the reverse in this country. Somebody will be taken to court and then be subjected to media trial. Allegations that cannot be proved would be made. In the UK, the security agencies and the prosecutors will not rush to court. They first ensure a prima facie case. But in Nigeria, our security agencies just rush to court. And at the end of the day, they will say they need time for proper investigation. Why do you rush somebody to court when you have not concluded investigations? So, this is not about the Nigerian court; it is about things that go on before a case is taken to court.

The court is not a magic house. You must bring facts that must support the law for the court to act. So, when Ibori was confronted with hard facts in UK, he had no option but to admit he was guilty. But here, most of the criminal cases are neither here nor there. It is when somebody has been put in detention that investigation is just starting. So, when you put the cart before the horse, you cant blame the court. Let all of us focus on the way our security agencies investigate crime. That is why many high-profile cases are in court. What is their substance apart from the media comments and juggling?

So, I dont see any problem with the Ibori case. When he was charged in Nigeria, what was the substance of the charges? For me, it is a call for us to re-examine our administration of justice system to ensure that people are not taken to court except you have established a case that can stand the test of time.

Chief Onueze Okocha (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former President, Nigerian Bar Association)THE Nigerian judiciary can measure up on equal terms with any other judiciary anywhere in the world. A court can only convict when the prosecution has provided credible evidence to show that the accused person is guilty. So, this comparison has always been coming up. The prosecution was not able to provide credible evidence against James Ibori and Justice Marcel Awokulehin discharged and acquitted him.

In England, the prosecution provided credible evidence and Ibori himself pleaded guilty. So, that is the position; the Nigerian judiciary measures up anywhere in the world. It is a credible judiciary populated by knowledgeable and well-behaved judges. Except for those that we hear are engaged in corrupt practices, the Nigerian judiciary is as good other judiciaries anywhere in the world.

The Nigerian judge in Iboris case did what he ought to have done in such a circumstance where the prosecution could not provide credible evidence. There was no reliable evidence with which the judge could have convicted Ibori in Nigeria and the judge did the right thing by acquitting and discharging him.

Livy Uzoukwu (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)If you are not familiar with the justice system in Nigeria, you will very quickly condemn her judiciary. But if you are familiar with the justice system, you will appreciate that the prosecution must have a proper charge formulated and filed against an accused person and there must be evidence to sustain the charge.

However, if the prosecution bungles that assignment, the judge is duty-bound to let the accused person go free.

But someone, who is not familiar with the system, will blame the judge, especially whenever an accused person is let off the hook .

What the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission normally does in all these cases is to file too many charges and that makes it very difficult to prove and that also makes the commission prone to mistakes. Look at what happened in London, they went and charged Ibori with a few solid counts, i.e the ones they know they will succeed in proving and they succeeded.

But in Nigeria, they (EFCC) think that there is an advantage in charging somebody with numerous counts. That is nonsensical. This is because it does not have any advantage whatsoever. The only advantage is that it generates publicity in the media because when somebody is charged with 100 counts, it sounds big but if the procession goes in the reverse order i.e somebody is charged with a few count charges, it does not make much meaning to the media. That is the society in which we are.

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