Anti-graft war: Osinbajo blames low convictions on manipulation

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has blamed the low convictions in the anti-graft campaign on the manipulation of the judiciary by those on trial for graft.

He stated that the nation’s judicial system enables the accused persons to employ what he called dilatory tactics.

The VP stated this at the inaugural flagship lecture of the Kukah Centre titled, ‘How to Make Democracy Work for Africa,’ on Thursday in Abuja.

The event had in attendance, Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, a former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Senate President, Bukola Saraki, represented by Senator Monsura Sunmonu; Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and others.

Osinbajo said the judicial system was also affected by the slow pace of trials and “the manipulation of the systems by those who can afford superior legal representation.”

He added, “So, in ensuring security, problems of weak policing are some of the issues we experience. Also, the perception of the people on the efficiency and fairness of the justice system is affected by the slow pace of trials and the manipulation of the systems by those who can afford superior legal representation.”

“So, you find that we have an anti- corruption war but questions remain as to how many people have been convicted. But the system can easily be manipulated because you put people on trial, but the trials can go on forever; we have a system that enables people to employ dilatory tactics. We need to strengthen the systems that people can rely and trust,” he emphasised.

The VP said the solution to the issues he enumerated was a merit-driven bureaucracy, a strong law and order architecture, the rule of law, and an adjudicatory system that would be well resourced and immune to manipulation.

He said African elite were making democracy difficult to practise on the continent by whittling down its practice.

“The elite, it appears, prefer the status quo which sets the lowest possible bar for political advancement that is identity politics; where do you come from? Or to which religion do you belong? And it is through that paradigm that most issues are analysed.

“So, the real issues that concern our people are often diminished – good governance, jobs for a growing population of young people, poverty alleviation, peace and security, etc. Those are never properly analysed, or even allowed to take their prominence in public debates especially in debates leading to elections,” Osinbajo said.

The VP  said there is no question that democracy and democratisation are challenged everywhere, even in the oldest democracies, adding that democracy is still work in progress.

The Ghanaian President, in his lecture, described the multi-party system of governance as best way to deepen  democracy in Africa.

Using his country as a case study, he said having tried everything else, Ghanaians finally reached a consensus that a multi-party system of governance was the best way to go.

He said the Ghanaian Fourth Republic had lasted for 25 years under a multi-party constitution, noting that his country’s political landscape with three peaceful changes of government from a ruling party to the opposition party taking place during the Fourth Republic.

Akufo-Addo said, “I hesitate to preach to anyone on this particular subject; I would only say that we in Ghana, having tried everything else, have finally reached a consensus that the multi-party system of governance works best for us.

“Our fourth republic has lasted for 25 years under a multi-party constitution. Indeed, we celebrated its silver jubilee on the 7th of January. We are stable and there have been three peaceful changes of government from a ruling party to an opposition party during the Fourth Republic.”

“I must also encourage the African Union member countries to demonstrate a commitment to strengthening and protecting the institutions and cultures of democratic governance; respecting human rights, religious freedom, the empowerment of women, and the rights of the individual and minorities, building strong market economies and facilitating the free movements of people, knowledge, goods and services across member states,” he added.

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