LOOTERS LIST: Did Presidency Err On The Side Of Justice?
Is this another show of the impunity with which those in governance flout the law?
The present administration has been accused of flouting the law by the opposition and this may have showed again in the release of lists of looters made public over the weekend.
Nigeria's law forbids an individual or groups to make comments or give opinion on an issue that is already in court.
When the first list was released, Olisa Metuh, who is standing trial for collecting 1.4 billion Naira from the office of then NSA, was included as looters of the nation's treasury.
On several occasions, Senior Advocates of Nigeria including Femi Falana have refused to give their comment on issues that were already in court saying it was unlawful.
But here is the presidency which is aware that Metuh is standing trial insisting that he looted money from the nation's treasury, even when he has not been found guilty.
Lawyers will say they do not want to preempt the outcome of the case, but the Federal Government had ignored this vital aspect of the trial of Mr Metuh.
When Bounce News contacted Falana on the issue, he expressed worry that the media has aided the presidency in flouting legal proceedings.
Meanwhile, another policy analyst, Boniface Chizea said the publication of the list is just a form of distraction, aimed at scoring cheap political points.
"One will expect that the list will contain already prosecuted persons and not persons who have not been found guilty by the law court.
Also Read: 'APC Is Blackmailing Me' - Babangida Aliyu
"I think that what is more important to Nigerians is that persons are punished for looting the nation's treasury and not who looted what," he said.
Barrister Tomi Vincent says that an individual had looted from the nation’s treasury does not mean that the government had pre-empted the decision of the court, but a mere claim.
“It has put the government in a more precarious state because the individual can sue for libel.
“By mentioning an individual, the law does not say that by mentioning you will go to jail. I will still have to prove my case in court,” he said.
Several persons were named on the list, but none of them has been convicted and this was highlighted by the PDP, when it dismissed the list as mere distraction to Nigerians from issues of public discourse.
The PDP had also requested that the Presidency should publish names of persons that it had convicted for looting the nation's treasuries instead of alleged suspects.