The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on Wednesday, disagreed with the call by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) advocating for capital punishment against corrupt officials.
The leadership of the NLC, speaking during a courtesy call on the NBA, said that rather than killing the corrupt officials, the focus should be on the recovery of the looted money.
You will recall that the NLC had last week, during a national rally called for capital punishment for persons found guilty of corruption adding that If such capital punishment can happen in China, India and South Africa, it can also happen in Nigeria.
However, the NBA President, Mr Augustine Alegeh (SAN) said the death penalty has been abrogated across the world, saying plea bargain was now the norm across the world.
Alegeh said: “There was a front page story last week that people who are involved in corruption matters should be killed. But I said no.
“International trend is that every country is moving away from capital punishment. Where the world is moving away from capital punishment, why are we going there?”
“Secondly, in corruption cases, the focus is on recovery of the money. Let us recover the money and use it to develop the country, not to kill the man. If you kill the man and the family has the money, have we made any progress? So, let us go for what is right,” he added.
“Plea bargain is very good. If you had done plea bargain with the governors in 2007, you would have raised a lot of money. When there are cases of corruption, the first thing is how to recover the money and put it back into the system.
“Chelsea Hotel was seized from somebody, since then the hotel is infected with rats. Assume that hotel was functional and revenue from that hotel is kept in our federation account, it would have added more money. That can’t be right. Wherever there is corruption, it is money made for development that is taken away.
“Our thinking is that proactive steps should be taken to stop people from looting, rather than wait for them to loot before thinking of killing them,” he said.
Speaking earlier, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, called for a better relationship between the two associations to ensure speedy trial of corrupt persons.
Wabba frowned at instances where lawyers deliberately stall trial of corrupt officials by seeking perpetual injunctions.
He said, “Part of decay in our system is caused by impunity by corrupt officials. We have canvassed for speedy trial for corrupt officials and have frowned at corrupt officials getting perpetual injunctions.”
According to him: “The issue of good governance is one issue that I think, as Nigerians, we need to take very serious. Part of the decays in our system is lack of good governance. Where issues of impunity and lack of transparency have dominated the polity.
“We have canvassed around the issue of ensuring speedy trial of corruption cases. We have also canvassed strengthening of anti-corruption laws so that we all have something to be proud of.
“Your profession will play important role, especially, on the issue of seeking perpetual injunctions by corrupt public officials, restraining anti-corruption agencies from prosecuting them. While it is their right to seek such, I think in a decent society, some of these injunctions, when they are perpetual, also have their effects on the nation,” Wabba said.