Unending reactions are still trailing the recent judgement by an Abuja High Court Judge, Justice Abubakar Talba in which a former Police Pension Board Director, Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf was sentenced to a two year jail term with an option of N750,000 fine, for criminally depleting the Police Pension Fund to the tune of N23.3 billion.
Prominent Nigerians including some members of the National Assembly and former vice president Atiku Abubakar have shouted blue murder over the court ruling, calling for the repeal of some provisions in the country’s criminal and penal codes. The judgement had been summarily described as obnoxious, wicked and inimical to the over all interests and rights of many Nigerians.
In his recent reaction, an Anglican prelate and bishop of Ikeduru Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chigozie Maduwike, rhetorically asked:
How can a man who has caused the hardship and deaths of many Nigerians, especially families of retired police personnel be givern a paltry sentence of a two-year jail term with an option of N750,000 fine? It is unacceptable, the law is very weak.
Bishop Maduwike who said he was in total support of the former VICE-PRESIDENT Atiku Abubakar that the laws of criminal justice in Nigeria be reviewed to give it stronger teeth to deal with national offenders, maintained that stiffer punishment ought to have been given.
In a country where a thief of a local fowl is often sentenced to a two year jail term without an option of fine, and others languishing in the prism for their inability to pay fines of N1000 and N3000 respectively, it is criminal and a rape of social justice to hand down such a judgement, the vocal prelate said.
He said instances abound in the past where judgements were handed down to the detriment of the silent poor ‘majority, but to the advantage of the minority few.
He mentioned the controversial judgement of the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dieprienye Alamieyesiegha who was given a clean bill of judgement for money laundering in the country, only to be court with stiffer penalty by a court of competent jurisdiction in London; and former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion who misappropriate more than N3 billion, but received paltery sentence. These national offenders are still walking freely without any quam today.
Still veering into memory lane, Bishop Maduwike mentioned the case of the former Director of the National Youth Service Corp, Col Killa who misappropriated billions of naira belonging to the N.Y.S.C., but was appropriately convicted and jailed for life, with all his properties confiscated.
The prelate again, asked: “Are we not in the same country today? “he regretted that looters of national treasury are these days sitting on their loot amidst official protection.
However, as anger and emotion flayed over the controversial judgement, a University don and Professor of Law, Professor Uba S.F. Nnabue has called on all Nigerians to be patient with legal process until all avenues are exhausted. Professor Nnabue who is Dean, faculty of Law, Imo State University said the outrage was expected due to human nature, but still appeal for caution to allow justice take its course.
The Professor who is at the Head of Department of International Law and Juris-prudence said that the Appeal Court and Supreme Court are there for any aggrieved party to seek redress, adding, I cannot support any unjust course or outright looting of common wealth.