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Monday, 15 June 2015

Igbinedion: Rights Group Lambasts Court By Joe Nwankwo, Abuja

A pro-democracy non-governmental body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on Friday condemned as patronising and insensitive the lenient sanction imposed on the brother of erstwhile Edo State governor by a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State, over the huge heist of public fund.
HURIWA has, therefore, asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) to immediately probe the Judge and sanction him for bringing the integrity and credibility of the Nigerian court system into disrepute with this laughable verdict.
HURIWA has also advocated comprehensive reforms of the criminal justice system to outlaw the current soft-landing and discriminatory lenient sentences usually given to affluent persons, who are accused of compromising the integrity of the nation’s judicial system, in conflict with the law.
“The Nigerian Court System as currently constituted is a respecter of the rich and affluent who are willing to buy justice whereas poor accused persons are allowed to perish in the over congested and poorly maintained prisons,” HURIWA said.
The group recalled that one Michael Igbinedion, brother of former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion, on Wednesday got a slap on the wrist over the N25billion money laundering charge for which he was convicted.
The group said that this comically lenient sentencing of accused persons who allegedly cornered humongous public fund has ridiculed the nation’s judicial system in the eyes of right thinking persons globally and has further graphically depicted Nigeria as a banana Republic where might of money is always right.
It would be recalled that at his sentencing on Thursday, Michael Igbinedion was fined N3million by Justice J. Liman of the Federal High Court, Benin, re-enacting a similar abysmally scandalous sanction read out to the erstwhile governor, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion, few years ago, by Justice Abdullahi Kafarati, then of the Federal High Court, Enugu.
Justice Kafarati then fined Lucky Igbinedion N3.5million, instead of sending him to jail.
In a media statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA has also called for fundamental overhaul by the incoming national legislature of the enabling law setting up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to include very stringent sanctions including death penalty for such monumental corrupt enrichment crimes by political office holder.

May 2, 2015. 

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