A former Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Prince Bola Ajibola has called for the establishment of special tribunals to reduce and eventually defeat corruption in Nigeria
Ajibola who was also a former Judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, stated that such special tribunals were necessary to ensure “social justice” because abnormal situations often require abnormal remedies, noting that “ we have done it before”.
In a press statement issued in Abeokuta, Ajibola who had served on many arbitration panels around the world explained that to ensure social justice, the spirit and letter of the law must be considered in resolving cases in many instances. According to him, recent judicial pronouncements on many cases related to corruption and abuse of office show “obvious weaknesses and spinelessness” in the administration of justice.
“We can still operate special tribunals with honest, intelligent justices of high integrity that will dispense justice fairly impartially, equitably under the rule of law”,JudgeAjibola stressed.
He advised that the executive and the judicial arms of government must quickly come together to initiate other forms of tackling corruption as the current system was not yielding expected results.
He said “the statutes setting up all anti-corruption agencies must be reviewed and strengthened to properly pin the onus of proof of lawful earnings on people indentified to be living or accumulating wealth and property beyond their proven legitimate means.
“Application of one of the golden rules of law that says justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done is relevant here and now. This was apparently lacking in many of the cases decided recently.
“Apart from setting up of special Tribunals, we should begin to seriously consider the jury system which has been perfected in the United States and the United Kingdom in reaching judicial decisions especially in corruption cases because it has now permeated every facet of our national life, while our existing control systems are clearly ineffective.
“We have done all these before, beaming of our searchlight on the Judiciary, especially during the time I served as Attorney General and Minister of Justice of this nation from 12thSeptember 1985 till 1st of December 1991, having completed then my service as President of Nigeria Bar Association. Incidentally, I had the advantage as Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria to appear in one of the special Tribunals chaired then by late Honourable Justice Muri Okunola of blessed memory. Late Chief Frederick RotimiAlade Williams, CFR was retained to oppose me. This was on a matter involving an important foreign nation that imported illegal hard drugs to Nigeria. We succeeded in proving our case and I personally refused to be bribed and in fact refused their offer to bribe me with foreign money. Ultimately we succeeded in the seizure of these illegal drugs.
“Coincidentally, this matter echoed back at the time that I was seeking election into the International Court of Justice, in The Hague and this same important Foreign nation said so many nice things about me and voted in my favour, referring to me as a great man from a great country, Nigeria.
“At that time we set up a delegation led by late Honourable Justice KayodeEso to travel to many parts of the world seeking pieces of advice on the issue of corruption generally. On their return, I was given their report and recommendations which led to the establishment of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offence Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau that are still in operation till today. Maybe they have to be actively and seriously energised to deal with the same problems”.