Corruption: Special criminal courts the answer —Intersociety tells FG

Posted by News Express | 15 December 2012 | 4,258 times

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The creation of special criminal courts to try corruption cases has been recommended as the solution to the scourge of corruption that has effectively arrested Nigeria’s growth.

The recommended is one of the many contained in a memo sent to Nigeria’s Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety, Nigeria). The group also advocated stiffer penalties for corruption, noting that the “present penalties in the country’s anti-graft laws are grossly inadequate and should be revisited with the exception of imposition of death penalty for their gravest categories.”

Dated December 13 and signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, Nigeria, the memo strongly advocated the “revisiting and upgrading Nigeria’s body of archaic laws” mitigating against the dispensation of justice in the country.

The memo, copied President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and several other top federal government functionaries, was Intersociety’s own way of marking the 64th anniversary of the World Human Rights Day, which fell on Dec. 10. It had as caption, “64th Anniversary of UDHR (World Human Rights Day): Revisiting & Upgrading Nigeria’s Body of Archaic Laws Is Long Overdue.”

According to Intersociety in the memo, “Today, apart from mocking the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 by referring to it as ‘Decree 24 of 1999’, other Nigeria’s body of laws, both civil and criminal, is utterly retrogressive and grossly inconsistent with the international standards and best practices. Nigeria’s body of laws including the 1999 Constitution still contains numerous socially irrelevant provisions.”

Commenting on provisions which it wants to be included, amended or expunged in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and other body of laws, Intersociety wrote:

Electoral Offenses Commission/Special Courts: Nigeria is mandatorily under local and international obligations to criminalize and prosecute electoral offenses & related acts so as to tackle electoral offenses during electioneering (pre-election, election and post election periods). Their penalties should range from three years imprisonment upwards. We hereby recommend for the creation of the above named Commission and Special Courts for same.

Corruption & Other Corrupt Practices Special Criminal Courts: Apart from  recommending for the creation of the foregoing courts with special rules to govern same, penalties for such crimes should be made stiffer (to at least that of burglary). Present penalties in the country’s anti-graft laws are grossly inadequate and should be revisited with the exception of imposition of death penalty for their gravest categories. Intersociety opposes death-penalty with total vehemence.

Proper Criminalization of Torture & Extra-judicial Murders: Presently, the Nigeria’s criminal laws including the CC, CPA, PC, CPC, Police Act and the Evidence Act are porous and weak with respect to the foregoing. Relevant provisions in them should be revisited and reworked bearing in mind the international rights-backed defenses. The State-actors must be made to answer for such heinous crimes at all times. Extra-judicial murders should be treated as willful murder and manslaughter respectively depending on the circumstances. Penalty for torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) should be made 14 years imprisonment. As you may know sir, there are no pre-judicial and extra-judicial defenses for torture as defined by CAT. Even in war situations, torturous treatments of enemy-captives are governed by laws of war (Geneva Conventions).

Justiciability of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution: This year (2012) marks 33 years since the Chapter Two commonly refers to as “Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy” was incorporated into Nigeria’s Constitution. It was incorporated into same in 1979 and since then, this important Chapter, which also contains some economic, social, cultural, environmental and groups rights as well as the dos and don’ts of the Nigerian public office holders, has remained toothless owing to obnoxious provision of Section 6 (6) (c) of the Constitution that forbids all courts in Nigeria from inquiring into its conformity or otherwise. It amounts to anarchy for the operators of the State not to be judicially questioned over their actions and inactions with respect to their management of public affairs. The said provision is also grossly inconsistent and incoherent with the same Constitution that gave birth to it. The said paragraph “c” of Section 6 (6) should be revised to empower Nigerians to have right to judicial inquiry into the said Chapter Two. Also, the operators of the State, who are judicially disempowered to hold the citizens  judicially accountable with respect to their duties as contained in Section 24 (a) to 24 (f), should exercise such powers and enjoy such rights if the obnoxious paragraph is expunged.

Revisiting Infamous Decree 21 of 1975: By the provision of this draconian Decree, the Nigeria Traffic Warden Service was seconded to the Nigeria Police Force as an “enslaved paramilitary organization”. To this effect, the management and control of the Service was handed down to the Inspector General of the Police. This is by virtue of Sections 59 to 69 of the Nigeria Police Act of 1990 (re-baptized NPF Act of 2004). The most obnoxious part of the Decree is Section 6 of same, which restricts its officers’ ranks to “Senior Traffic Warden” as highest rank to be so attained. The “Senior Traffic Warden” is equivalent to Nigeria Police Inspector. The Service’s lowest rank is called “Traffic Warden Grade 111”, which is equivalent to Constable in the Nigeria Police Force.

Amendment of Section 146(3) of the 1999 Constitution: The said provision that states… “Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid (section 14 (3)) the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State who shall be an indigene of such State”, should be expressly amended because it engenders wastefulness, duplicity, corporate laziness, incompetence and corruption. An over-bloated government cabinet is a recipe for huge public recurrent expenditures and indebtedness. While we strongly advocate for the retention of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution for the purpose of equity and evenness in the management of Nigeria’s human and material resources owing to heterogeneous nature of the country, we recommend the use of geopolitical zonal equity rather than State with respect to the appointment of federal ministers. The Senatorial equity should be applied at the State levels in the appointment of civil commissioners.

Adequate Protection & Compensation by the State of the Victims & Witnesses of Violent Crimes in Nigeria: As you know sir, Nigeria has since joined the league of independent countries and occupied territories of the  world as “ the sole prohibitor, prosecutor and punisher” of crimes against persons and properties, which are usually violent in nature. As a result, State is now the sole protector of all citizens and punisher of those who engage in the commission of crimes against persons and properties. Citizens including the victims of violent crimes are forbidden by State from avenging for violence meted out to them. One of the main reasons why modern criminal law as Nigeria has it today, frowns at the moribund customary criminal law is because of the latter’s insistence on the archaic doctrines of “self-help” and “trial by ordeal”.

Overhauling Nigeria’s Obsolete Criminal Intelligence & Investigation: It is possible that Nigeria as Africa’s major crude oil exporter is also the Continent’s major importer of small arms. It is believed in many socially informed quarters that there are three major procurers of small arms in the country. They are: Federal Government as the sole State small arms procurer; various State Governments as “arms traffickers within borders” (procurement of arms from local illicit sources for motley of their vigilante groups); and non-State actors as “arms traffickers without borders” (procuring small arms from illicit spots outside limitless borders). It has been sadly observed that any security challenge in Nigeria makes European, Asian and American manufacturers of small arms instant millionaires, if not billionaires. For instance, the little deployment of sciences of intelligence, bomb making (usually locally made improvised explosive devices) and detonation by the Boko Haram militant elements and their political sponsors, which may have taken them a fraction of millions of naira, has grossly exposed Nigeria’s emptiness in intelligence and preventive policing.

Photo: Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke.

Source: News Express

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