by Lekan Olanrewaju
Former Delta state governor, James Ibori was on the 17th of April sentenced to 13 years in prison for several corruption and money laundering charges. His sentence was delivered at the Southwark Crown Court in London, by Judge Anthony Pitts.
But before being sentenced in the UK court, he had previously been tried in a Federal High Court in Asaba, and acquitted on all 170 charges. A group has now spoken out against the judge who handled that case, insisting that he be dismissed.
A social justice advocacy group, Spaces for Change, has petitioned the National Judicial Council to fire and prosecute Justice Marcel Awokulehin, who had in 2009 dismissed all charges filed against Ibori by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The Executive Director of the group, Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri stated that punishing Justice Awokulehin would serve as a deterrent to other judges, in addition to being a step forward in fighting corruption and “also help in restoring the rapidly eroding public confidence in the judiciary as the last bastion of hope for the common man.”
“Dismissing and prosecuting Justice Awokulehin would represent a step forward in tackling judicial corruption,” she said, “And attest to the seriousness of the National Judicial Council to insulate judges from political manipulations and control.
“Without an honest criminal justice system, the wealthy, especially the corrupt, can escape the consequences of their crimes.”