30th January, 2013
TWO YEAR JAIL FOR STEALING N32b!:
A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
An Abuja High Court yesterday sentenced one John Yakubu Yusufu to two years in prison with an option of fine to the tune of N750,000.00 (seven hundred and fifty thousand naira only) for stealing a whopping N32 billion police pension fund.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is flabbergasted by this judicial pronouncement. The judgemnet has far-reaching implications both within and outside this country. It constitutes an open and indubitable invitation to young Nigerians to engage in corruption and crimes of all types because they may now see no justitia omnibus in the system. Outside the country, Nigerians are exposed to more ridicule, contempt and derision.
This, no doubt, is a rape on democracy and an infra dignitatem of the collective intelligence of the good people of Nigeria. It makes a mockery of the war on corruption. This judgement reveals that the Nigerian corruption ring is wider than ever imagined.
The impact of this judgement on the bench is unfathomable. Whereas there are men of integrity in the profession, this pronouncement makes a mockery of the bench and renders it in puris naturalibus. It opens the noble profession to a floodgate of questions concerning the integrity of some of its drammatis personae. It portrays the Nigerian judicial system as one bent on robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is very sad that Nigerian courts are fast becoming recruitment sergeants for armed robbers and the principle of the rule of law is fast becoming a myth rather than a reality.
MURIC calls on the Nigerian Judicial Council to investigate the pedigree of Justice Abubakar Talba who delivered this provocative and highly irrational judgement. We assert that Nigerians have no confidence in him and his ilk. We charge Mr. Adoke, the Minister of Justice to call for the case file with a view to ordering a retrial in another court and under another judge in the interim. As a long term measure, however, we demand a clean-up of Adokie's Animal Farm.
Thousands of poor Nigerian citizens have spent years in jail awaiting trial: some for stealing one tuber of yam due to the pervasive hunger in the land, others for less offence. But Yusufu steals N32 billion and gets a pittance as fine. It is preposterous, tyrannical and therefore totally unacceptable. Our democracy is a fraud if this judgement stands.
We remind Nigerian judges and those in the corridors of power that "Allah commands justice, fairness and liberality to kith and kin. He forbids injustice…" (Qur'an 16:90). Allah also warns, "…And judge fairly when you judge among men…" (Qur'an 4:58) "…Follow not your lusts lest you swerve and if you distort or refuse to do justice, verily, Allah is well acquainted with all what you do" (Qur'an 4:135).
MURIC calls on civil society to rally against the tyranny of the powerful and influential in society. We charge Nigerians to rise against selective justice. Nigerians must reject this ruling with one voice. It is hypocritical to have one law for the rich and another for the poor. This is definitely not the democracy we fought for. It is imperative upon the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to appeal this judgment immediately.
Finally, we advise members of the press to start a boycott of Abuja courts if within 21 days nothing is done to reverse this draconian ruling. Simultaneously, civil society must call out Nigerians to occupy court premises all over the country. As a last resort, the Nigeria Labour Congress must call out its members to start a 'sit-at-home' until this arbitrary, thoughtless and reckless judgment is reversed.
Professor Is-haq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),