Veteran journalist and politician, Lisa Olu Akerele, has commended the Nigerian judiciary for refusing to shield politicians from corruption trials.
Citing recent moves by the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, both in Abuja, to allow former governors like Bokola Saraki and Orji Uzor Kalu of Kwara and Abia States respectively to face corruption charges, Mr. Akerele said the move is encouraging and an indication that there is still hope in the judiciary.
“It had been the practice in the past for corrupt public officials to harangue the judiciary with unending court processes to frustrate their prosecution,” Mr Akerele said.
He alleged that these governors, while in office, diverted funds meant for the general good of the people to oil their personal estates.
He said for more than eight years in Abia state, while Mr. Kalu reigned as governor, he and “his clan had run riot in plundering the state’s commonwealth and feathering the nests of a family, while holding local government funds to ransom.”
He said some politicians have refused to differentiate public funds from their private purses and that it is necessary to put them to trial in order to serve as deterrent to incumbent office holders.
He said that the James Ibori’s trial in which the former Delta State governor was set free by an Asaba high court on a 115-count charge but was jailed for the same offence in London “shows that there is something inherently wrong with our judiciary.”
Mr. Akerele expressed disappointment with the Kwara State government “for mobilizing jobless citizens to rally in Lagos against police’s invitation of Saraki for questioning” urging it to rather use such funds to usefully engage the unemployed youth in the state.
Mr. Akerele has also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “to take advantage of the new face of the Nigerian judiciary to exhume all outstanding cases against former governors gathering dust in court shelves and prosecute them to fruition.”