Popular human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday said that the ongoing anti-corruption war of President Muhammad Buhari may fail if the President fails to address the root causes of corruption.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who spoke at the Special Congress and Public lecture organised by the Olabisi Onabanjo University chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State said the war might not record up to five convictions with the way it is being fought.
The senior legal practitioner stressed that the manner in which the anti-corruption war was being fought had left much to be desired.
He said that although he did not doubt the ability of the President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo at combating the menace but that it might not succeed by the time this regime ends in 2019.
Falana who is also a former president of the West African Bar Association added that a situation where a privileged political office holder who flagrantly dipped his hands into public treasury was allowed to go scot-free but a poor Nigerian charged with stealing was sentenced to long prison terms would not do the nation any good.
The human rights lawyer insisted that the neo-colonial capitalist system being towed by the country had already negated its anti-corruption crusade, stressing “Nigeria practices a rickety capitalism” where anti-corruption is fought with kids glove.
He lamented the corruption of the country’s value system and challenged all Nigerians to support the government in fighting the
Falana who spoke on “The Limits of the Anti-Corruption War” also urged the government to publish the names of those standing trials for corruption and the cases to enable Nigerians ask question, saying, “We must insist and publish the names of their lawyers”.
The legal luminary who indicted the Bar and the Bench for wide spread corruption in the administration of criminal justice system in the country, however called on the Federal Government to ensure that no criminal was allowed to go scot-free.
He said, “The criminal justice system has been hijacked by the corrupt and looters of the public treasury and their lawyers. It is only in Nigeria that an accused will ask his trial to be suspended.
“Many of the governors who faced corruption charges, their lawyers had asked for their trial to be suspended, and judges granted this. How would a lawyer also plead with a judge that a criminal should not be arrested?
“Someone who stole millions of naira getting perpetual injunction not to be arrested and prosecuted, lawyers must allow cases to go on.
“In Edo State, someone was sentenced to three years imprisonment for stealing bush meat, another one who stole handset in Osun State, was also sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.
“But corrupt public officials prefer to be remanded in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s custody or being remanded in Kuje Prisons.
“Let me tell you, EFCC cells have beddings and mosquito nets, and I have been detained in Kuje Prisons twice, it is one of the best prisons in the country. Why didn’t they take them to Kirikiri or Ikoyi or Ijebu Ode Prisons?
“And whoever has been detained in police cells would know that they sleep on bare floor, and a bucket put at a corner to serve as container for their faeces.”
He challenged the ASUU national body to assist in the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government.
Falana argued that the principle of equality before the law had not been applicable in Nigeria.
He regretted that Nigerian laws favoured the rich while the poor continued to suffer, saying “advance nations sacrifice personalities for sustenance of their rule of law but here big man make the poor to suffer under the rule of law”.
Falana explained that since 2007 till date out of all the corrupt cases that involve personalities, only two has been convicted of corrupt practices.
He blamed the under-development of the country on the diversion and massive theft of funds by political and public office holders.

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