Saturday, April 19, 2014

Plea bargain protects criminals, worsens corruption-ASUU

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ASUU says the concept of plea-bargaining is inimical to the county’s growth.

By Jide Jegede

Allowing for plea bargaining by indicted officials only worsen the festering corruption in the country, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, ASUU, Nasir Isa, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a reception held in honour of Chukwuka Okonjo, ASUU National Trustee, who was honoured with Doctor of Science award by the University of Ibadan. Mr. Isa described the use of plea bargaining in cases involving influential personalities in the country as ploy to create sacred cows among the affected individuals.

“You catch somebody and tell him to part with a part of what he has stolen. It is not going to stop others but would encourage them to continue to steal. Plea bargaining is just another way used by the political class to protect their own,” he said

Mr. Okonjo, a Professor of Economics, is the father of the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Mr. Isa said ASUU is opposed to any arrangement that would allow convicts to part with a portion of their loot, while they are let off the hook to enjoy the remaining.

He said that plea bargaining is another trick of the political class to shield corrupt people from the appropriate punishment after stealing from the nation’s commonwealth.

“The stealing is mostly done by them. If somebody steals N100m and you ask him to part with N60m, what stops him from stealing N200bn next time? We at ASUU do not support giving protection to criminals,” he said.

The ASUU chief warned that giving support to criminals by merely asking them to part with some of their loot is counter-productive and would only portray Nigeria as an unserious nation. He charged President Goodluck Jonathan to summon courage and implement reports of probe panels set up by his government.

He said if the president must succeed in office, he has to step on toes and stop hobnobbing with people of questionable character.

Quite a number of indicted public and private officials have been left off the hook after a plea bargain surrendering a portion of their loot. Some of these cases include a former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion; and a former head of Oceanic Bank, Cecilia Ibru.

The ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan branch, Segun Ajiboye, had earlier tasked the FG to address the problems facing education in the country.

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