Renowned constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Friday, condemned the proposed Amnesty Bill for treasury looters, rejecting the proposal in totality and describing it as scandalous.
Ozekhome, while reacting to the proposal stated that the bill is not only scandalous but also debasing.
“I totally, wholeheartedly and unambiguously reject with every fibre in me, the proposed bill to give amnesty to treasury looters. The bill is a most scandalous and debasing bill that is highly retrogressive, immoral, obscene and counter productive. The bill is simply dead on arrival; yes, as dead as dodo,” he said.
The senior advocate also disagreed with those who believe that the proponents of the bill, in proposing it, were simply actuated by malice, corruptible tendencies or with a view to protecting themselves in or after office, adding that they were simply encouraged by the clear and extant provisions of Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which allows for plea bargain.
“The section clearly provides that the prosecution may enter into a plea bargain with an accused person,either directly or through his representative before the accused has entered his defence through giving of evidence in court. A plea bargain allows for the return of part or the whole of loot or proceeds of crime by an accused person in exchange for a lesser punishment where the prosecution’s case is weak or where the accused has cooperated with the state and has agreed to make restitution for the victim of the crime,etc.
“This is to avoid unnecessary expenses and waste of time, resources and energy on the part of the state where securing conviction of the accused person is not guaranteed by the evidence available to the state. However, I am more inclined to agree with those who believe that a wholesome embrace and enactment of such a bill into a separate Act would amount to totally legalizing and legitimizing corruption as a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy,in a most brazen manner,” he explained.
Ozekhome stated further that this will be quite dangerous, not only to the already battered image of the country but also runs against the grain of preservation of national ethos, morals and ethics as such a law would send the dangerous signal that corruption indeed pays and that all that a corrupt public officer needs to do is to shamelessly steal the country blind and then quietly return part of the loot whilst he and his family relax and enjoy the country’s treasury for the remaining part of their wretched and miserable lives.
“Such a bill will undoubtedly ignite and encourage corruption, barefaced stealing of public funds and daring larceny of our collective national wealth and common patrimony in their naked forms, he concluded.