Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, the former President of the Nigerian Bar association and ACN Guber candidate in the 2012 Ondo elections on Friday condemned the trial of looters in the media under the President Buhari’s era of probe and clampdown on corrupt elements, describing it as convicting the suspects without giving them fair hearing.
Akeredolu who spoke at the valedictory court session held by the Oyo state Judiciary for Hon. Justice Misitura Agbaje-Oladeinde, at Court 1 of the State High Court, Ring road, Ibadan, said:
“Can we continue with the media trial of suspects? At what point is one deemed guilty. If you find N5m in someone’s account, Is the person guilty before being proved guilty and that guilt is established. We cannot continue the way we are going with media trial of suspects, at the end of the day, you have condemned them even before the trial and we will be the ones that will more or less suffer for it…. to suffer more or less for it if at the end of the attack, the suspects
“Those that are going to try them; are they equipped for these trials. When Father Kukah said some things, some of us condemned him. We must sit down and reconsider some things. When people make away with money, can we get them to do a plea bargain? This might save the prosecutor a lot of embarrassment because from what I can see, both the EFCC and the ICPC are not equipped for trial of the nature we are facing today.
“I want to call on the government to look at it again. What we want is our money back, what we want is not 500 charges that none will be proved. What we need is two or three charges, do a plea bargain, if you are going to put them behind bars, let there be agreement on the number of years they will serve and give us back the money”
Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu advocated the implementation of a proper plea bargain system as a way of saving time and recovering the resources that were stolen.
According to him, media trial of suspects’ means that they have been condemned without their trial, adding that to get the money back from them should be the important aspect and determination of how many years they will spend in jail during a plea bargain arrangement.
He reiterated that an effective plea bargain system will save the prosecution a lot of embarrassment as it is obvious that the agencies charged with the responsibilities are not equipped for the job.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, Mr. Kazeem Gbadamosi, stated that the third tier of government does not exist in some states in Nigeria, adding that it is illegal not to conduct elections in any state
He stated that constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended sets up a three tier form of government; Federal, state and local as provided in Section 7(1) (4), adding that there is no provision for a caretaker chairman in the Nigerian constitution.
“I am not aware that there has been a third tier of government in some of the states in this country (including Oyo state). The failure to conduct elections for the third tier of government is not only unconstitutional, it is illegal. We have gone through the constitution; we have not seen where there is provision for caretaker chairman/person to be appointed by the governor.
“The question is can the President appoint caretaker governors? We should all endeavor to fight jointly the illegality of creating/appointing caretaker committee for local government that will occupy office for periods not provided for in our constitution.
“It is also wrong to use civil servants who are public officers to run local governments contrary to the provision of the 1999 constitution. It is wrong. We all have a duty to call for compliance with the constitution and upholding of the constitution which our politicians have sworn to uphold,” Gbadamosi said.