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Nigerians task judiciary to emulate South Africa as Zuma goes to jail

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 17, 2021 Former South African president Jacob Zuma who is facing fraud and corruption charges greets supporters in the gallery of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, May 17, 2021. – South Africa’s top court on June 29, 2021 found former president Jacob Zuma in contempt of court following his refusal to appear before a graft panel. (Photo by ROGAN WARD / POOL / AFP)

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, has been sentenced to 15 months in jail by the country’s highest court.

He has been given five days to hand himself in to the police, failing, which the police minister must order his arrest.

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The sentence comes after the Constitutional Court found him guilty of contempt for defying its order to appear at an inquiry into corruption, while he was president.

Mr. Zuma’s time in power, which ended in 2018, was dogged by graft allegations.

Nigerians, meanwhile, have lauded the development, charging the judiciary to be courageous in its decisions.

The deputy director of Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Mrs. Ogechi Ogu, said the sentence of Zuma speaks volumes. The decision of the court, she said, is an indication of the advancement of democracy in South Africa. According to her, this is the rule of law at play.

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She said: “The fact that Zuma was the former President did not make him be above the law. The courageous decision of the constitutional court to see that the proceedings went on and the decision, which found him guilty of contempt for defying its order to appear at an inquiry into corruption, while he was president, are pointers to the fact of the independence of the judiciary in South Africa. This is how a country that wants progress and development operates.”

Programme Officer, Human Rights Law Services (HURILAW), noted that everyone is equal before the law, as the law does not discriminate. He lauded the court’s decision as a step in the right direction. “If you refuse to keep to the orders of the court, you have no choice but to spend some time in prison,” he said.

Also, Project Director, Access to Justice, Deji Ajare, said the jail sentence is a landmark judgment worthy of celebration, as it gives a notion that Africans are experiencing a rebirth that would bring an end to impunity.

According to him, “it is a lesson for Africans and specifically Nigerians that if the opposition sits up, and puts its house in order, they can be a catalyst for the kind of change we seek in Nigeria in the area of accountability.”

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