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Stakeholders seek re-introduction of jury system to fight corruption

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Stakeholders in the judiciary have called for the re-introduction of the jury trial system to fight corruption in the country.

They made the appeal yesterday at a symposium: “Salvaging Nigeria’s criminal justice system: The jury option.”

It was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch Human Rights Committee, in collaboration with The Jury Justice and Rectitude Advocacy Initiative.

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said it might be difficult for justice in corruption to be successfully disposed of.

He stressed the need for the ordinary laymen and women to be legally empanelled to decide the guilt, or innocence of persons charged with crimes of bribery and corruption.

Others who supported the call were Professor of law, Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Justice, Mr. Razak Atunwa, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

Sagay expressed concern at the criticisms that followed the judgment of the courts on corruption charges against some judges.

“After my recovery from the shock, it dawned on me that legal knowledge could make judges prone to legal technicalities, to create a barrier between technical law and justice,” he said.

He said the usual excuses for huge deposits in judges’ account are “marriage of judges daughters, death of judges relations like father, mother, auntie, uncle.”

“I supported the abolition of the jury system in 1976 by the military, because I believed that laymen could easily be influenced or subjected to other people’s interest, instructions. The fear also was that a judge, would more likely uphold the integrity of the judicial system among other reasons.”

He further said, in recent years, a lot of evidence have established that some judges cannot be relied upon to uphold the integrity of the judicial system.

He made reference to the judgment in case of a judicial officer who was charged with corruption, adding that judgement in the matter showed that there is es spirit de corps among the judges.

The acting EFCC boss who was represented by Seidu Atteh said the commission would accept any trial system that would assist it in fighting corruption cases successfully.


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