Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mrs Farida Waziri - Excuses! Excuses!! Excuses!!!

Let us ask why the cases are still pending. I say often that the process of judiciary is slow. If a corrupt person pays you half of what he has stolen, what should you do? They take it and look for a way to keep on prolonging the case. ” (EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri)

Anytime I read the comments of the EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri my head pounds! Perhaps Madam Waziri should keep shut up if she has nothing encouraging to say about anti-corruption. As Nigerians, we are sick and tired of an anti-corruption czar who looks for every excuse not to perform her role diligently. She needs not to just her actions because we now know that, her mandate is not to rock the “corruption boat”.

Mrs Waziri’s excuse for failure is now because corrupt official bribe lawyers to help frustrate their prosecution. So the legal profession is to blame for the government ineptitude and apathy towards anti-corruption – come on! I find Mrs Waziri’s comments very insulting to the law profession. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are no bad eggs within the law profession, but for the head of anti-corruption agency to make such a generalised derogatory remark is not acceptable. In fact I’m waiting for the Nigerian Bar Association to pick her up on this statement.

Mrs Waziri need not to be reminded that she is also a lawyer, or maybe she has forgotten. However, she needs to be reminded that, she is guilty of the same offence, for which she is accusing lawyers. Is it not on record that prior to being EFCC Chairman, her law firm stood as surety for accused former governors? Do we not know that Mrs Waziri was retained by some former governors to help fight their corruption cases? If that is the case, perhaps Mrs Waziri needs to tell us, how much was she paid by these corrupt ex-governors for giving them “consultancy” advice? Also, based on her recent comments, we can assume that she cooperated with the court really well in making sure their cases were treated expediently. Which meant she did not help frustrate her client’s cases? I guess she was appointed EFCC Chairman because of how she diligently handled her briefs (!)

Mrs Waziri should recognise that the EFCC operates in a democratic society, where “rule of law” is paramount. Is Mrs Waziri suggesting that anyone charged with corruption should not be defended in court? Or we should start operating military-style tribunals in a democratic society? Even, Section 35(5) and (6) of the 1999 states that “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty” and also “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own”. She needs to recognise that lawyers are out to do a job, which they have to be paid for.

So what am I saying? If this government and EFCC are really serious about fighting corruption, they should stop looking for excuses. Instead the judicial system should be purged of greedy, incompetent and lazy judges. If the judiciary is properly constituted with people of integrity, then tell me the lawyer that will succeed in frustrating the courts. We all know that there are problems with our judicial system. These problems do not only affect corruption-related cases. The Nigerian judiciary is one of the most pathetic in the world in terms of adjudication. Cases brought before a judge can take years before it is heard talk less of being decided. It is the loopholes that exist within our judicial system that are being exploited by lawyers. But really which lawyer wouldn’t exploit a legal system that is riddled with loop-holes?

For me, the call for a special court or tribunal for corruption cases by Mrs Waziri is nonsense! What will be achieved by these special courts and can’t be achieved by the existing courts if they are strengthened? As an example, has the creation of election tribunals helped in anyway facilitate swift legal proceedings? At the end of the day, it is this same corrupt and apathetic government that will appoint people into these special courts. So tell me what will be different?

So Mrs Waziri, you can keep making noise from now until kingdom come. But the bottom line remains that you and your paymasters are only paying lip service to the anti-corruption struggle and nothing more!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The EFCC has been defrauding my Family for years. So have all those that utilize Intercontinental Long Distance Services /Internet Services.