By UbongAbasi Ise
Akwa Ibom-based human rights lawyer, Barr. Clifford Thomas, believes fight against corruption in the country would not tick without death penalty.
Speaking at Planet FM’s EFCC half-hour programme penultimate Thursday, Barr. Thomas said Nigeria is a very democratic country when looking at it from the angle of human rights, saying it makes the country unable to subscribe to death penalty, which should have socially been the best.
The vocal lawyer, while pointing at China where consequence for corruption is death penalty, and where the family of the condemned have to pay for the bullet used for the execution, said in comparison, Nigeria is too soft on corruption.
He stressed the difficulties involved in establishing facts against the accused persons saying this make it a herculean task to secure conviction.
“I know EFCC, even the ICPC and other anti-graft agencies are able to secure conviction for a couple of matters they have in court, and again, you can’t secure conviction until you are able to establish the facts against the accused persons” said Thomas.
The former state chapter Chairman of Civil Liberty Organization further stressed how the country is embracing the culture that encourages corruption. According to him, “Our culture, the ethos of this country in almost every ethnic nationality appears to encourage corruption.”
On establishing special courts for corruption cases, Barr. Clifford Thomas said he does not subscribe to the idea because it would still come with the same processes found in the normal courts. He suggested that corruption cases should be mainstreamed into the existing courts but slightly specialized in a way that can accelerate the process of judgment. Thomas further suggested that 20% of the available courts should be devoted for corruption matters with special days designated for hearing of such cases.
He said there should be a directive that would call for the hearing of corruption cases not for the period not exceeding 12 weeks.
A co-discussant at the same radio programme, Barr. Queen Udofia, maintained that going for special courts would heavily involve budget and manpower. According to her, “if we do it the same way we do election matters that is time-bound, you know you have to sit up because you have important matter at hand.”