Peter Ayoade, Ibadan
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Prof. Olanrewaju Onadeko has recommended the establishment of special courts and some other reforms to strengthen the war against corruption in the country.
The professor of Law made the recommendations while delivering an inaugural lecture on Thursday at Ajayi Crowther University in Oyo.
The lecture entitled ‘Society in Dissonance -Enthrenched Laws, Order, The Judex and Imperfect Harmony’ was the 18th to be delivered at the university.
Onadeko lamented the low level of conviction in corruption cases, particularly those involving well known defendants, saying there was need for creation of special anti-corruption courts.
“From 2000 to 2017, more than 1500 non-high profile convictions were secured by the anti-corruption agencies, but they secured only 10 high profile convictions within the same period with 167 cases pending.
“Of the 10 convictions, three were granted presidential pardon. I think President Obasanjo did two and President Jonathan did one.
“It has been noted that most corruption cases against high-profile offenders do witness delay tactics and tricks by the defendants to truncated their trials
“There is an emerging reality of captive justice system at the mercy of high profile offenders and their platoon of defence counsel,” he said.
The varsity don called for the establishment of special divisions of the federal and state high courts to handle trial of corruption cases.
He recommended that judges deployed to the special courts must have uninterrupted tenure of not less than four years to ensure stable and seamless proceedings.
Onadeko said that deployed judges should be allowed to conclude all cases pending before change of deployment or elevation to higher bench.
The senior advocate said that the role of the law profession in the administration of justice was both ubiquitous and profound.
According to him, “no progressive and democratic society can continue to bask in the ever selling entrenchment of corruption and its consequences.
“The legal profession is a visible and key participant in the unending task of nation building.
“And if it is identified as being complicit in obstructing the war against corruption, the profession should introspect and find a way of getting back to what is expected of it.”
Onadeko said that judges should be enjoined to put the justice of every case at the fore and be even handed in discharging their responsibilities.
He admonished judges to be wary of excessive display of academic prowess when faced with interpretation or construction of law in the face of overwhelming evidence culpability by defendants.
The senior advocate called on the National Judicial Council(NJC) to constantly monitor the progress of all corruption cases from time of arraignment of defendants to conclusion.
He said that the NJC should ensure judicial officers granting inordinate orders to prevent or restrain functionaries of anti-corruption agencies from their duties be sanctioned for misconduct.
Onadeko also stressed the need to modify the immunity clause in section 306 of the constitution to serve its true purpose by introducing clearer words to define its overall extent.
He said that the major anti-corruption laws be kept under constant watch by the Attorney-General of the Federation with a view to introducing relevant modifications as circumstances necessitate.
The varsity don recommended the creation of the law reform commission under the ministry to collaborate with anti-corruption agencies on quarterly basis.
The lecture was attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dapo Asaju, the management, staff, students, academics and family of the lecturer.