Anti-graft War: Selective Justice Better than No Justice, Says Osunbor

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Ejiofor Alike
Former Governor of Edo State, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, has stated that selective justice for the looters of the country’s treasury is better than no justice at all.

Speaking against the backdrop of criticisms in some quarters that selective justice was being adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari in combating corruption.
Osunbor added that,there is no country on earth where law enforcement agencies are able to arrest every criminal or prosecute all those arrested and secure their convictions.

According to him, the police in developed countries are known to spare criminals in the underworld known to them who help provide the vital clues or information leading to the arrest of dangerous criminals.

The former governor who is also a former Chairman of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission, argued that the law gives the prosecution the discretion as to whom to prosecute, adding that they may choose to turn a co-accused into a prosecution witness if this is in the interest of diligent prosecution.
“Public concern must be to ensure that whoever is charged to court with the commission of an offence receives fair trial and gets justice in accordance with the law,” he said.

“In a well-structured system of plea bargaining, a criminal may be spared prosecution or get away with a light sentence if he agrees to testify as a prosecution witness against the kingpin or mastermind of the crime where, otherwise, it would be difficult to secure a conviction. Regrettably, in Nigeria, some people are quick to erroneously label this selective justice, not knowing or pretending not to know that it is legitimate, permissible and valid under our laws,” he explained.

According to him, the Nigerian constitution “gives the Attorney General the power of nolle prosequi to discontinue the trial of any person if this is in the public interest, the interest of justice and due process.”
He said the law enforcement agencies must be encouraged to do more to investigate, arrest and bring, to justice every criminal big or small because the rule of law demands nothing else.

“However, given a choice between selective justice and no justice at all, the former must prevail. Selective justice is far better for society than allowing any thief to get away with his loot. With the recoveries of stolen money being recorded we can see that government’s approach is yielding good result despite the hue and cry about selective justice. There are many defences under our Constitution, the Criminal Code and Penal Code as well as the various statutes creating offences (such as the EFCC Act) available to persons facing criminal trials but selective justice is not one of them. People should stop pleading it in defence of suspects because it is unknown to our jurisprudence,” he added.

 Specifically, he argued that “In a well-structured system of plea bargaining, a criminal may be spared prosecution or get away with a light sentence if he agrees to testify as a prosecution witness against the kingpin or mastermind of the crime where, otherwise, it would be difficult to secure a conviction.”
He further argued that it was difficult for all criminals to receive same kind of judgement or prosecution.