Saraki's acquittal: SERAP urges Osinbajo to set up anti-corruption commission...Seeks UN support in anti-graft war

Date: 2017-06-16

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the dismissal of Sen. Bukola Saraki's trial by the Code of Conduct Tribuna yesterday as an indication of serious shortcomings in the nation's criminal justice system.

Saraki had been cleared of an 18-count charge filed against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau which includes false declaration of assets while he was governor Kwara state.

In its reaction to the dismissal of the case in a statement released by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the civil rights group appealed to the Presidency to seek the support of the international community in prosecuting high-profile corrupt cases.

"The acquittal yesterday of the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) of corruption charges suggests serious shortcomings in the criminal justice system, and means that a complementary and supportive mechanism in the form of a UN-backed commission against corruption and impunity in Nigeria is urgently needed to achieve President Muhammadu Buhariís oft-stated anti-corruption agenda," it said.

The organization urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to urgently pursue the establishment of a UN-backed International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity to assist our criminal justice system to effectively and efficiently investigate and prosecute high-level corruption cases in the country, like it happened in Guatemala.

According to SERAP, "A UN-backed commission would help to improve our criminal justice system in the short, medium and long terms so that it would be better able to prosecute complex grand corruption cases. It would also meet the longstanding and legitimate demands of the Nigerian people for vigorous and meaningful action against corrupt leaders, past or present.

"Supporting a strong partnership between Nigerian prosecutors and international law enforcement experts would show that the authorities have the ability and political will to chip away at the country's corruption and impunity of perpetrators, and help address Nigerians' scepticism about the viability of the anti-corruption agenda.

"Further, to end a culture of corruption and impunity of perpetrators, we urge the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to urgently take over the prosecution of the corruption case against Mr Saraki by ensuring that the CCT decision is urgently appealed and that the case is diligently prosecuted within the limits of the rule of law.

"The outcome of the Saraki's case sends a damaging message that suspected corrupt leaders can get away with their crimes, while keeping their stolen assets. Many would-be corrupt leaders may now see engaging in acts of corruption a risk worth taking," the statement read in parts.

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