The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called for a review of Nigeria’s criminal justice system to strengthen the anti- graft campaign in Nigeria.
The Chairman, Abuja branch of the NBA, Afam Osigwe, said this on Monday during a courtesy visit to the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, at the headquarters of the Commission in Abuja.
Mr. Osigwe said that the reform of the criminal justice system is imperative and would address existing challenges in the fight against corrupt practices.
“Why shouldn’t we amend our Criminal Procedure Justice Sector? If you are living in a manner that your income cannot sustain, the onus of proof should be on you not on the prosecutor,” he said.
Mr. Osigwe also said that plea bargaining had become a recognised issue globally and called for its institutionalisation in Nigeria, stressing that Judges should have rules guiding them in giving rulings on it.
In his response, Mr. Lamorde welcomed Mr. Osigwe’s proposition of reform of the criminal justice system stressing that legal practitioners understand most of the challenges posed to the fight against corrupt practices.
The EFCC Chairman explained that the quantum of cases before the Commission is making prioritizsation of its work imperative and dismissed the claims in some quarters that the EFCC is selective in its work.
“For those who accuse us of selective justice, thank God they are not saying we are persecuting them, they only say we are selective. Our resources are limited; we must prioritise the cases we go after. It is putting logic on its head to talk of selective prosecution of corruption cases. It is unfortunate that Nigerians don’t own up for their crimes,” he said.
Mr. Lamorde called for the enactment of a Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture law to replace the existing Conviction-based Asset Forfeiture regime in view of the need to separate an accused person’s ill-gotten assets from his person.
“The civil forfeiture law will address the issue of corruption not conviction based forfeiture as we presently have”, he explained.
He appealed to lawyers to refrain from delaying cases before the court in the overall interests of the nation.
Mr. Osigwe was accompanied on the courtesy call by Agada Elachi, Vice Chairman; Chris Agidy, Secretary; Emeka Obegolu, National Publicity Secretary; U. M Yamah, Publicity Secretary, among others.