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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

LAW and Legal update as Sagay wants harsh punishment for corrupt SANs

Latest information reaching us revealed that the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, on Monday, called for appropriate sanctions against lawyers bringing shame to the legal profession.

It is currently reported that Sagay also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigeria Police to monitor and to investigate the activities of
legal practitioners who received proceeds of corruption as legal fees.

It is gathered that the senior advocate spoke during the 2017 annual Law Week of the Edo State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association in Benin, with the theme, ‘Fighting Corruption within the Rule of Law in a Democracy’.

Sagay, who spoke on ‘Corruption in the Judiciary: The Disciplinary Role of the NJC vis-a-vis Law Enforcement Agencies’, said, “The worst culprits in this sad and sorry state of affairs are lawyers, mainly senior advocates, who shamelessly approach judges and introduce them to this demeaning and shameful culture.

“These senior advocates deserve the harshest punishment of all. The EFCC and the police must monitor and investigate the activities of lawyers who receive a share of the proceeds of crime as their fees.

“They should be treated as accomplices after the fact because they share in the proceeds of the crime of politically exposed persons and once paid from that strained loot, it becomes their lives’ struggle to protect and shield the primary criminals from the consequences of their crime.”

According to him, public servants and politicians who conspire to bribe and corrupt Nigerian judges deserve harsh punishment.

He noted that when the law courts across the country failed to interpret, apply and enforce the law, the existence of the any civilised society would be endangered, adding that the loss of confidence in the judiciary would amount to chaos and disintegration.

He explained, “No one ever expected judges to throw caution, rectitude, honour, justice and the credibility of the judiciary to the winds by selling judgments. This is the destructive culture brought about by election petitions which has spread like an epidemic through our formerly hallowed judicial system.

“The disciplinary procedures of the NJC were not set up for such a crime. That is why, tragically, we are now experiencing judges being tried in courts like common criminals. That is why the anti-corruption and security agencies have taken it upon themselves to continue from where the NJC’s authority ends.”

Sagay further stated that judges enjoyed no immunity from investigation, arrest, trial and conviction.

He said, “In order to restore the authority, power and dignity of the judiciary, we must go through this extraordinarily painful process of punishing those who have brought shame to that sacred institution.”

Earlier, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Benin, Prof Lawrence Atsegbua (SAN), said that the law had failed as a tool of fighting corruption.

Atsegbua said that in spite of the laws prescribing stiff penalties for corruption, more money than ever had been stolen from the public coffer by corrupt means.

In her remark, the chairman of the event and Chief Judge of the state, Justice Esther Ikponmwen, lamented that the judiciary had been affected by the sting of corruption, adding that any act that deviated from acceptable standard of the legal profession was corruption.

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