“In a country where Nigerians who are alleged to have robbed people of less than N10,000 are paraded in press conferences addressed by commissioners of police in all the states of the federation it is the height of hypocrisy to complain over the publication of the names of a few politically exposed persons who are alleged to have looted billions of Naira. Anyone who feels offended by the publication of his or her name in the media should sue for libel in a court of law. Let those who are critical of media trial not complain when fat cats are exposed…..” Femi Falana SAN
I felt sad when I read this statement which was attributed to the Learned SAN. It is the same sadness I fell whenever I read or hear Prof.Itse Sagay SAN trying to rationalize and defend almost very unruly act of the Executive at the Federal Level.
Over the years, the learned silk, who also doubles as a Human Rights Activist has shown his antagonism towards corruption, bad leadership and inequality in the society. This is much appreciated and welcomed. However this shouldn’t becloud his judgment whenever the supposed “rich” or “powerful” are involved.
No matter how the learned silk attempts to define equality. Everyone is not equal. A Minister or a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not strictly speaking equal to an ordinary citizen of Nigeria. Even he, Femi Falana SAN is not equal to me. In the legal profession and in the larger society, he enjoys several benefits that are unavailable to me and if an illegal or wrongful act is done to him or anyone of his standing, the reaction would be different if that same act was done to me and that isn’t hypocrisy but life.
The parading of suspects by the Police has been declared unconstitutional by the Courts and several CSO’s have condemned it. But our Police who have a penchant for been unruly have refused to comply with the law.
Moreover, in the case of the looters list, the cruz of the discussion wasn’t the publication neither was our complain a guise to shield the alleged persons from prosecution.
Rather, we wanted to denounce the government for being political in his anti-corruption fight, since the list only listed members of the opposition party. Also and indeed more importantly, since most of the persons were already charged, we prefer that the Court should be allowed the freedom and independence to determine whether or not they are looters, because if the Federal Government is sure they are looters, it begs our imagination why they instituted the cases in Court. They can continue to handle the matter arbitrarily and in defiance of the rule of the law.
Also, we are tired of the media persecution of these alleged looters which over the years have turned out to be unfruitful, as such we would prefer the Federal Government and all its apparatus invest all their time in Prosecution rather than persecution.
With this professional outlook, the anti-corruption fight would be more effective and be internationally more credible.
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria