By Nick Chibunna
A lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Enugu State University (ESU), Barr. Augustine Obiobasi, has condemned the plea bargain policy of the Federal Government, saying it has no place in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.
Barr. Obiobasi, who spoke to Christian Voice at the weekend, however, commended the government’s whistle blower policy, describing it as a major policy thrust toward fighting corruption and unbridled looting of the national treasury.
The lecturer, who commented extensively on the two years of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, advised the government to channel recovered funds from looters to agriculture, health, education, science and technology, as well as other critical sectors of the economy.
He said that it was a good way to mitigate the poverty currently ravaging the land.
Commenting on the last two years of the present federal administration, the university don said that it had been two years of unmitigated frustration, hardship, anger, acrid agitations, with Fulani herdsmen and kidnappers holding sway.
The lawyer said that the “whistle blower” policy of the Buhari administration is a step in the right direction, as it would discourage financial crimes among prospective offenders, but quick to add that investigation should be thorough in order not to give room for false alarm.
He advocated for stiffer penalty against financial crimes, adding that when people are aware that punishment for an offence is imminent, they would refrain from committing crimes.
He described “Plea Bargain” as a technical loophole in which those adjudged to have committed one crime or the other escape from the long arm of the law.
He said that “Plea Bargain”, a policy that allows mutual agreement between the state and those adjudged guilty of financial crimes, whereby they agree to return in whole or parts of looted funds in order to be granted bail is not good for a country like Nigeria, adding that a criminal is a criminal.
Barr. Obiobasi observed that there has been apparent success in the war against corruption and insurgency, saying that our security agencies should be encouraged to guarantee optimum result.
Asked to suggest a veritable panacea for the current economic doldrums, the legal luminary said that all that is needed is an acceptable blueprint toward economic transformation, adding that all the recovered stolen funds should be used as intervention funds in critical areas of the economy.