Ibori's Guilty Plea: Castigation of Nigeria's Judicial System
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The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, has noted with keen interest the on- going trial of Chief James Ibori at London's South-walk Crown Court in which the former PDP Governor of Delta State pleaded guilty to the allegation of stealing $250million (about
N38.75Billion) from the state and laundering same through off-shore Companies.
The prosecuting counsel, Sasha Wass, QC, had said inter-alia that:
'Ibori had 'tricked' his way into becoming a governor between 1999 and 2007, by giving a false date of birth and claiming he had no criminal record.
He was never the legitimate governor and there was effectively a thief in government house. As the pretender of that public office, he was able to plunder Delta State's wealth and hand out patronage.'
The latest twist and turn in this case, we view as huge indictment of the Nation's judicial system. It would be recalled that in 2009, Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba absolved James Ibori of all the 170- count charge of corruption and money laundering brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Earlier in 2004, Justice Hussein Mukhtar had dismissed a charge brought by two PDP members that Ibori had once been convicted by an Abuja upper area court.
In a related matter, we are miffed by the subsisting perpetual injunction by the former PDP Rivers state governor, Dr Peter Odili, restraining the EFCC from prosecuting him. This bizarre order, with no judicial precedent or any supportable Nigerian law, was issued by Justice Ibrahim Nyaure Buba of the Federal High Court. A formal petition sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi on 20 th November, 2009 by a UK-based Nigerian Lawyer, was dismissed as 'unmeritorious'. The pertinent question is: should we wait until the Nation is thoroughly embarrassed again (from outside its shores) before vacating this egregiously lawless order?
As a Party, we conclude by reminding the Judicial Powers in the Land of the admonition of Justice Frankfurter of the United States' Supreme Court: 'All power is of an encroaching nature. Judicial Power is not immune to this human weakness. It must also be on guard against encroaching beyond its bounds and not the less so since the only restraint upon itself is self restraint.'
God bless Nigeria.
Rotimi Fashakin (Engr.)
National Publicity Secretary, CPC.