By Donald Ugwu
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday declared that the anti-corruption fight in the country must take a new turn for it to succeed.
Osinbajo stated this at the opening of a two-day capacity building workshop for justices and judges, organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja.
He said that the administration was reviving the entire anti-corruption system for speedy dispensation of justice.
“We are re-jigging the entire system; the Chief Justice of the Federation has laid down the rules and he has encouraged everyone to follow suit.
“There is no question at all that this is the time for us to open a new page in the entire anti-corruption fight.’’
The Vice President, who expressed joy that the judiciary was on board, assured of the executive’s support in ensuring effective investigation of cases and speedy dispensation of justice.
According to him; “this is a collaborative venture of all, and the executive, judiciary and legislature must see this as a fight for the soul of our nation.’’
Osinbajo hailed the CJNs new initiatives and the practice directions issued by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal in the Administration of Justice Act.
He further commended the recent Supreme Court decision which stopped the dilatory tactics of staying proceedings in criminal cases on account of interlocutory applications.
Osinbajo observed that all the nations that succeeded in winning the war against graft had to change their administration of justice system as well as the methods of investigation and trial of corruption cases.
“Investigations must be conducted properly and thoroughly, not on the pages of newspapers, but before cases go to court, so that when such cases reach the court; what is presented will be the best possible case that the prosecution can present.
“Most of the countries that have successfully dealt with corruption have had to dispense with needless technicality and focused on the offence.
“In the case of public officers, they recognise that there can be no real explanation for a public officer whose pay is public knowledge to have cash and assets several times more than his earnings, let alone his savings.
“If somebody earns in excess of what he should possibly even save in several lifetime, freeing him technically can never make sense, it will always seem that something has gone wrong with the system,’’ he stated.
The Vice President also noted that most countries recognised that even the whole process of decision making must make sense“ otherwise it would undermine the very fundamentals of judiciary and justice.’’
“If the fundament of justice is undermined, everything is undermined,’’ he said.
According to Osinbajo, the misery and loss of lives on account of corruption far exceeds that of any other single crime, adding “if you look at the extent of damage caused by corruption it surely is a crime against humanity”.
He noted that “impunity seems magnified when trial of alleged perpetrators of corruption never seems to end.
“And that such individuals can afford the best legal assistance only deepens the course of hopelessness that the corrupt will never be punished.’’
The Vice President noted that the Boko Haram insurgency also escalated because of the diversion of funds meant to prosecute the war.
He added that the reason the country did not build any new infrastructure in the last six years in spite of the huge oil revenue was because of corruption by government officials.
“Corruption threatens our security, health, education and even our corporate existence’’ he said adding that it was the reason that Garvey, a global health fund for vaccine provision in developing countries, withdrew support for Nigeria for alleged mismanagement of funds between 2011 and 2013.
He stated that the country had to refund $2.2 million adding that the drugs were meant to fight HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria amongst the poor.
He said that a lot of funds in the hands of the corrupt were used to subvert justice, bribe government officials, judicial officers, media and subvert legislature.