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Thursday, 16 June 2016

SGF, Sagay, Falana deplore roles of lawyers in aiding corruption

Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN)
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal; the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), among others, on Thursday lamented the roles of some lawyers, judges and other professionals in aiding corruption.
Also speaking along the same line, the Executive Secretary of the PACC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said efforts were on to isolate and penalise professionals, who contributed to money laundering, failed to expose their corrupt clients but chose to share from the proceeds of crime.
They spoke in Abuja at a workshop on the ‘Role of professionals in the fight against corruption’.
The workshop was co-organised by the Sagay-led PACC, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria and the Convention on Business Integrity.
Lawal said some lawyers and a few of compromised judges, helped corrupt persons to frustrate their successful prosecution of criminal cases, a development which he said was injurious to government’s anti-corruption war.
Babachir, who was represented by an official in his office, Mr.Tor Tsavsar who is  Director, Nigerian National Volunteer Services, said there was need for professionals to see themselves as stakeholders in government’s anti-graft efforts .
He said, “From recent revelations, corruption is usually aided and facilitated by conniving civil servants and professionals in the public and private sectors. It is no news that most stolen funds are laundered through our banks and other offshore entities that are owned and managed by professionals.
“A recent case of the ‘Panama Papers scandals’ is an example of how politicians, criminals and rogue industries were assisted by professionals to launder stolen funds. It is equally regrettable that some of the professionals do not stop at aiding, abetting and facilitating the stealing of public funds, but more often than not, go further to offer direct and indirect support to indicted officials to beat the law.
“It is no more news that corrupt officials are able to engage some of our seasoned lawyers, who employ negative tactics ‘in or out of court’ to frustrate trials of indicted officials.
“The retinue of frivolous interlocutory applications, which are pursued up to the apex court, while action on substantive matters are stayed, are common examples of how professional lawyers frustrate the fight against corruption.
“Similarly, some compromised judges always exhibit a disquieting tendency to indulge these lawyers in their unpatriotic and unscrupulous conduct. The attitude of some of our legal practitioners and judges have become so alarming that Mr. President had, on few occasions, lamented their role in the fight against corruption.”
Sagay deplored the conduct of professionals who aided corruption and fraud.
He said the Federal Government was considering how to ensure that those who aided corrupt and fraudulent acts  were also prosecuted.