Nigerian judges have been warned to desist from treating corruption cases with kids gloves by defending the sanctity of equity and the nation’s justice system. The warning was issued in a press statement by a group of anti-corruption civil society groups under the aegis of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL.
The coalition in the statement signed by its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran said its intervention has become imperative following recent developments in the nation’s judicial system where cases that border on fraud and diversion of public funds are handled in less than transparent manner and with levity.
According to the coalition “we are worried that soon corruption cases stalled or dismissed in our courts have always speedily sailed through in London courts and in other jurisdictions. We are worried that our judicial officers especially our judges are giving the impression they are there to do the bidding of the very corrupt persons before their courts while the victims are harassed and intimidated.
“Of particular interest is the on going case involving an oil marketer, Mr Andy Uba and Access bank/Coscharis Maduka wherein the former was alleged to have diverted a loan of over $286 million into buying properties abroad instead of using same to trade in importation of petroleum products for which the loan was given. The failure of the businessman to pay the loan has therefore led to the case being taken to court for resolution, as a result of which Access bank had obtained a mareva injunction freezing Uba’s assets worldwide.
“It is however alarming when we read in the papers the complaint of Mr Uba’s lawyer in London that the judge hearing the case at a federal high court in Lagos, Justice Abang had gone beyond the prayers of his client by ordering Access bank to withdraw the case in London.
“We will like to tell our judges that it is their failure to stand by and defend the course of justice in the Nigerian courts that is leading litigants to go out and seek justice where they are sure that their grievances will not only be heard but will be determined by the facts of their case rather than other factors as it is the case in Nigeria.
“That Access bank has gone to London to seek justice is an indictment on the judge handling the case in Nigeria and instead of rolling out orders intended to intimidate Access Bank, we expect the judge to be interested in the real issue of getting the loan paid back. That will resolve the problem. That will save the bank from suffering the same fate about 10 other banks suffered in 2008/2009 due to bad loans when EFCC had to intervene.
“On this basis, we implore the current leadership of the EFCC to also show interest in this case just as the immediate past leadership of the Commission did to in 2009 to recover depositors funds that have been given out as loans to businessmen who have diverted same to other uses other than the purpose for which the loans were given.
“We in CACOL have resolved to monitor and follow this case and other similar cases and take appropriate actions including mass protest any time we see something going wrong again.”
Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL