The clamour for special Tribunals to speed up trials for our hardened criminals which include thieving governors, looting legislators, armed robbers, ritual murderers, kidnappers and fraudsters has been more compelling now than when I first wrote this piece in October of 2015.
The fight against corruption is one major area in which all Nigerians find agreement. Everybody talks of corruption, and everybody condemns it, but nobody is ready to admit that almost all Nigerians are guilty of this devouring cankerworm. Every where around us, even from our homes, schools and colleges, Iledis, Synagogues, Churches, Mosques and such other places of organized worship, factories, banks and other financial houses is infested with the plague of corruption.
Experts are also in total agreement that corruption is the greatest bane of our society and has been the greatest main stumbling block to our progress and development as a country. All facilities that ought to have been provided by our successive governments were denied actualisation because the funds earmarked for their provision got consumed by greed and avarice.
For years every successive government had paid lip service to quenching corruption and stamping out the epidemic from our land. But no major success had ever been achieved. At best such efforts had been selective and self-serving.
Three major factors had been fingered as creating stumbling blocks to fighting corruption in Nigeria. The first is its pervasive nature. Agents set up to fight corruption quickly and easily end up corrupted. The second is the lack of political will to confront corruption headlong and give it a devastating blow. The third factor which perhaps is the summation of the other two is the outdated Criminal Laws the country is operating. For example, the time most of the laws enacted to wage war against stealing of public funds were made nobody ever imagined that any human being would ever be crazy enough to steal one billion Naira! It was simply unimaginable. So if the law to fight stealing demands say two-year jail term or an option of fine, a man who has cornered 5 billion Naira would be eager to suffer prison inconvenience for two years or simply sneeze up a negligible fraction of his loot.
There was a particular attempt at fighting corruption worth mentioning. There was a particular ruler who persuaded himself that the best way to cripple his enemies and opponents was to set up a witch hunting machinery and police it with a willing tool to do the hatchet job. A man known for his theatricalities and zany humour, and believed by the whole world except by himself, that he is Nigeria’s godfather and grandmaster of corruption, instituted a so-called Empowered Fraud to Cage Competitors. To date EFCC lacks credibility and respect. The Agency has been wobbling in the courts for close to 8 years in some cases and has been unable to conclude or convict nearly all the unfortunate governors who were in the Czar’s Black Book.
Now is the time for decisive action.
President Muhammadu Buhari globally respected for his zero tolerance for corruption should seize the bull by the horn and set up a different approach to shaming corruption once and for all. The President should as a matter of urgency explore all lawful and legal means to constitute Special Criminal Tribunals to try the notorious cases aforementioned; these are Looting of government treasury, Money Laundering, Misdemeanour by Banks’ Chief Executives, Armed Robbery, Ritual Murder, Kidnapping and other violent crimes that take human lives in their wake.
This columnist does not care if the President transforms to a Dictator in this realm. There is no other way corruption can be killed in this country except through draconian laws.
All pending cases of corruption especially those dating back 8 years or longer should be transferred to the about to be constituted Special Criminal Tribunal and must be concluded within 30 days. There are ex-governors whose charges have been amended more than ten times simply because the EFCC presumed them guilty as dictated by their pipers paymaster. Let such former governors be quickly tried and those found guilty to be heavily punished while those being traumatised by frivolous charges be restored to their peace of mine and reputation.
Let Nigeria not listen to the Globalisation Apostles who would be quick to condemn our approach to cure our leprosy. Every country, every society, every community creates and applies laws that fit their peculiar maladies. When promiscuity was the most disturbing culture among the Hebrews and Arabs, the Semitic peoples, they applied Stoning to Death as the appropriate punishment for Adultery, Rape and other sexual offences. When stealing became predominant amongst the Arabs, their society came up with amputation as the considered punishment. The United States of America concluded that judicial murder that is Death Sentence was the most befitting punishment for Murderers, just as the Chinese applied the death penalty for corruption.
The Special Criminal Tribunals should be headed by our most reputable retired Judges whose pedigrees are irreproachable. How I wish Justices Oputa and Esho were alive!
Reputable individuals like General Williams and well known anti-corruption campaigners must be engaged in the act of cleansing this damned country.
In addition to the establishment of Special Criminal Tribunals, the Federal Government must bring back Civics into the school curriculum, and must be taught from Primary 1. We can no longer rely on the established commercialised religions and their get-rich-quick preaching to instill the needed morals into our young ones. And a culture that says you can steal, plunder, and commit murder and rape with assurances that such huge crimes are already forgiven the moment you confess to your equally corrupt pastor is not suitable or applicable to Africa. Our Mythology does not believe that sins committed in 2015 had already been paid for in ransom by some god fifty thousand years ago!
Unfortunately and regrettably, the cultures that came to Africa to sell such bogus lies instill maximum punishments for all misdemeanours including the Death Penalty and also have the largest number of prison yards! For us in Yoruba country, death penalty is the prescribed prize for stealing as Sango and Ayelela will strike you dead the moment you breach the moral code….until some pink skin told us our morality was barbaric.
The National Orientation Agency is doing a good job, but the government must go further to embark on serious Ethical Revolution to address the perverted Minds of people stealing money their sixth generation cannot exhaust even if they lived for 1000 years! Why should any person, even the most deranged lunatic steal 30 billion dollars??
The impunity and recklessness of the political, business, and traditional elite must be stopped. And a fearsome deterrent must happen. National bleeding must stop.