The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has condemned the slap-on-the-wrist judgment given by a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State to a younger brother of ex-Governor Lucky Igbinedion, Michael.
The Judge, Justice A.M. Liman sentenced Michael to a six-year jail term for N25bn money laundering offences while an aide of the ex-governor, Patrick Eboigbodin, was also jailed for 20 years for the same of offences.
However, the governor’s brother has an option of paying N3m or N1m for each of the three counts on which he was found guilty to avoid going to jail whereas Eboigbodin sentencing is without an option of fine.
The two convicts and four companies had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an 81-count charge of money laundering during the tenure of Lucky Igbinedion as governor.
Reacting to the news, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr Debo Adeniran, who berated the Nigerian justice system, decried the ridiculous judgment handed the brother of the ex-governor.
“It is unfortunate this is happening in Nigeria despite the many reforms this administration claimed it has brought to our judicial system. This is an indication that the reforms are just charade. The judgment ridicules our judiciary and judicial system. A man is found guilty of perpetrating N25bn and was asked to pay N3m whereas another man which whom he committed the same offence was given 20 years jail term without an option of fine. What a ridiculous judgment! What ratio is N3m to N25bn? What qualifies Lucky for an option of fine which is not applicable to Eboigbodin? Do we have different sets of laws for different classes of people? Is the Nigerian justice system so biased? This judgment sends wrong signal to the outside world and that is a way to disgrace the sanctity of our democracy; it is an embarrassment on our judicial system.
Basically, the judgment looked more pre-arranged because it was also a fine of N3.5m that was given to his brother, Lucky Igbinedion, for defrauding his state of over N25bn.
This is another proof that instead of the Federal Government fighting corruption, it is rather protecting the corrupt elements. The Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke is not interested in prosecuting anybody. Several people have been indicted, nobody has been made to face the wrath of the law; and for those who were brought before the law, the cases were shoddily prosecuted to the extent that many of them didn’t get deterrent punishment. As a matter of fact, it is a long drawn story of protecting corrupt people.
We urge the incoming government to reopen all these cases and bring all these corrupt people and their allies in the judiciary to judgment.