Sagay seeks punishment for SANs frustrating major corruption cases

Sagay Itse [Photo:]
Sagay Itse [Photo:]

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Itse Sagay, has advocated “stiff punishment for counsel, particularly senior advocates, SANs, who have turned obstruction and frustration of proceedings on high-profile corruption cases into an art.”

Mr. Sagay, a law professor and senior advocate, said such punishment for SANs must include denial of right of appearance in such high profile and grand corruption cases.

He said this on Wednesday at Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)’s latest media roundtable titled: ‘Strategies and Approaches for the Successful Completion and Effective Prosecution of Abandoned and Unresolved High Profile Cases of Corruption in Nigeria. Combating Grand Corruption and Impunity in Nigeria’.

The roundtable held in Ikeja Lagos was organised in collaboration with TrustAfrica.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ogun State, Olumide Ayeni, who chaired the event said, “Any person who loves this society will welcome and attend events of this nature. It is a very important subject we are here to discuss, to find ways of addressing the cankerworm that has evaded our society.”

Okoi Obolo-Obla, Special Assistant on Prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari who represented the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said, “I admire what SERAP is doing. It is not Buhari’s work to fight corruption alone, it is all our fight. It is corruption that is fuelling this agitation by the different groups.”

G.K Latona, Head of Legal of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, representing EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu said, “We are not working at cross purposes with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation; we are cooperating with them. We have a wide range of corruption cases in concert with state agencies. The Attorney General Office has the right to initiate new high-profile corruption cases and investigate it themselves without waiting for cases initiated by the EFCC. We are also working on best practices manuals for the prosecutors and investigators If you want a corrupt free society, we must all work towards it.”

Abubakar Mahmoud, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, said “lawyers should report to NBA anything they observe in court that is corrupt.”

In his paper, Mr. Sagay also urged prosecuting counsel in grand corruption cases “to apply to reinstate any case struck out for want of prosecution. In cases requiring appeal, the authorities must apply for leave to appeal out of time, and prepare evidence and legal arguments thoroughly, including by inviting consultants to advise.”

According to Mr. Sagay, prosecuting authorities must “Insist on full application of Sections 306 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, namely: No stay of proceedings under any circumstances – S. 306.Any preliminary objection must be taken together with the substantive issue – S. 396(2), and hearings shall be on a daily basis, but in exceptional cases, adjournments not to be in excess of 14 working day, may be granted. Such adjournments not to exceed 5 in any proceedings – S. 396 (3) and (4).”

The don also recommended that, “A High Court Judge who is elevated whilst presiding over a criminal case, should be allowed to conclude the case without any effect on his new status. The head of various courts, namely Chief Justice of Nigeria; President, Court of Appeal; Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; and Chief Judges of State High Courts, should be sensitized about the very critical nature of the fight against high-level official corruption to Nigeria’s development and the welfare of its peoples.”

Mr. Sagay’s other recommendations read in part: “Pending the establishment of a Special Crimes Court for the whole country, Criminal Divisions should be created in the Federal and State High Courts. Specially vetted and selected Judges, known for integrity and self-discipline should be posted to man such Courts.”

“It is very important to deploy the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee and Civil Society Groups to monitor all high profile corruption cases on a day to day basis (i) to ensure that corruption cases are heard speedily and in full compliance with Sections 306 and 396 of the ACJA, (ii) to report non-compliance by any Judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC).”

“All suspected proceeds of crime should be placed under temporary forfeiture during the trial of a high-profile person. Prosecuting authorities should resort to Non-Conviction Based Asset forfeiture, where proof beyond reasonable doubt is difficult to achieve because of technicalities. Prosecuting authorities should also consider resorting frequently to the Plea Bargaining Provisions of ACJA in order to save time and state resources.”

Another lawyer, Babatunde Ogala, on his part said that “The moment you take public office, the expectations of you are very high. Corruption is a problem in all of us, our values encourage corruption, pressure from family and well-wishers, once you attain political office. Government is fighting corruption to the best of its ability.”

The Guest Speaker, Yemi Akinseye-George, said that, “The best way to rob a country is to buy its political system. There are several high profile corruption cases that are stuck and unresolved – no acquittal, no conviction. The National Judicial Council should be proactive in tackling corruption. Judiciary must purge theme selves of corruption so that they can avoid executive interference We also need to leverage on e- recording of proceedings and put an end to writing in long hand by judges.”

According to the professor, “There is need for authentic and reliable source of information on corruption cases. Civil Society Organisations should be apolitical, they should focus on the issue and not the persons. SERAP is at the forefront of the campaign for the efficient prosecution of high corruption cases. Please sustain the advocacy. Civil societies like SERAP can help build independent data basis which can be updated regularly. This will help a lot. Questions like who and who have been plea bargained, what are the conditions, the agreements, etc can then be answered.”

Others represented at the event included the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC; the Nigeria Labour Congress, the National Human Rights Commission; Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the U.S. embassy, the Royal Netherlands embassy, members of the civil society and the media.


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  • Bright Ezeh

    God bless you sir I think that will be good

  • Hamza

    Fighting corruption is indeed everyone’s responsibility. It is not easy to be principled in an African society. It takes a lot of (strong) discipline. The little things we do or those that we don’t do really matter. Society strongly influences our choices and actions.
    The judiciary needs to wake up to save Nigeria. If not, we are dead!

  • God dey

    I absolutely agree with the Prof. But I think we need harsher punishment for these so-called SANs and they themselves MUST be charged with conspirary in grand corruption. Many of them get their SANs through fraudulent means. SANs are part of the probs of this country. What a joke of a wasted generation

  • Gary

    Is anyone, other than Lai and his BMC minions, still listening to what Sagay has to say? I doubt it.
    Keep prattling for all we care.

  • Frank Bassey

    Agreed. All those misleading the President and giving him dubious pieces of advice should also be punished. You are one of them. In sane climes, all those involved in the “clearing” and “investigating” Babirchir Lawal over his fraudulent IDP grass-cutting, should be behind bars. Keeping such characters at tax payers’ expense is unacceptable.

    • soyo

      You are one of the beneficiaries of looters, you need to know that you shall your part in the lake of fire when Christ comes. Eminent scholar, Prof Sagay is contributing his own quota to how the loots in custody of your benefactors will be recovered, and you, without any pedigree, are here blabbing. Alright, continu!

      • Frank Bassey

        Sagay is already burning sagaciously in deep, hot, hell fire. If you see him as one playing positive role in the fight against corruption, you are already in the devil’s den in Hell fire. The man is not real, he is hypocritical, he is insincere. We have heard enough of Looting. The role he played in Babachir Lawal and Ibrahim Magu’s cases show him as supporter of Looters. As your role model, fire and brimstone will descend on all of you; in fact it is already on you and your likes. HYPOCRITES.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      You never read before posting your nonsense.
      He is seeking punishment for SANs frustrating major corruption cases.

      • Frank Bassey

        Your head is full of nonsense. Prof. Itse Sagay is frustrating genuine fight against corruption. He deserves punishment; that is the point I am making.

    • God dey

      I absolutely disagree with your assessment of Sagay. He’s a man of integrity otherwise he will not have the boldness to be saying what he’s saying

      • Frank Bassey

        Then we need to redefine INTEGRITY

  • soyo

    May God continue to bless Sagay. May he live long to guide us the more. May he wax stronger in wisdom, principle and intelligence. He’s one of the very few individuals I respect in this nation today. He has distinguished himself in all spheres of life. His haters will die untimely in Jesus name.

    • God dey

      I say amen. We need more of Sagays and SERAPs in this country

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    What is stiff punishment?
    Death sentence will work magic!
    If you are corrupt, you work against the survival of the people; it is crime against humanity.
    However, as a lawyer, you can defend corrupt people, but if you actively obstruct justice, you are evil, pure and simple!
    Evil people deserve Hell fire.

  • Ahmed Tukur

    There are signs that both the NASS and the Judiciary are clearly against the war on corruption of the present government.

    • God dey

      Yes indeed