The Vice-President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), on Friday explained how the Muhammadu Buhari administration would wage war against corruption, saying that Nigerians must begin to question sources of the wealth of rich Nigerians.
Osinbajo, who stated this while delivering the keynote address at the Abuja edition of The Platform, said the incoming administration would ensure zero tolerance for corruption by reforming the Justice system.
The vice president-elect said within the last few years, what the country had experienced was a situation where people got away with corrupt practices, noting that going forward; the Buhari administration would make sure that corrupt people suffer the consequences of their actions.
Osinbajo stressed that when people are made to suffer the consequences of corrupt practices; it would send a strong message to everyone that the era of looting of the treasury was over.
He said, “We have always talked about zero tolerance for corruption but it is also important that people are made to understand that there will be consequence for corruption.
“What we have seen so far is that there is hardly any consequence and people simply get away with it and if you get away with it often, it sends a message to everyone that there is no problem, and we need to fix that whole thinking that there has to be a consequence for corrupt practices.
“People have to explain, for instance, if you are a public servant, that how come you have 50 houses. Somebody needs to ask you those questions and some of the reasons people get away with that is our criminal justice system”.
Osinbajo, who is a former Commissioner of Justice Lagos State, said in view of the fact that the incoming administration would be taking the fight against corruption seriously, one of the reforms that would first be carried out is in the judicial system.
He said the nation’s judicial system as presently constituted was slow, adding that this had made it easy for people to get away with criminal acts.
He said, “Our criminal justice system needs to be fixed. The system is slow and it almost always ensures that people who have been charged with offenses would not be tried forever and after a while people forget that people are on trial.
“We have to fix that criminal justice system to ensure that criminal trials are speedy and that anyone who is guilty of an offense will be punished for that offense.
“So there are so many initiatives around what we need to do in that area. The United States has 300 million people and they have 2.2 million people in jail. We have 170 million people and we have convicted people of just 12,000.
“Now if you add those awaiting trials, it comes to about 50,000 but actual convicted people are just 12,000. Truly it shows you that there is a failure somewhere of our criminal justice system, practically every one of us knows somebody who has stolen something.
“The truth is that the system of protection, investigation and trial of people is wrong and the truth is that everybody gets away with criminality in Nigeria and I think there is a need for us to review the system such that it begins to work”.
In the area of policing, Osinbajo said a country as big as that of Nigeria needed community policing.
He pointed out that it would be difficult for the Nigerian Police Force as it is presently constituted, to fight crime in an effective manner owing to what he described as structural problems.
He said, “We need to look at law and order. The question of policing our society, how do we police this country? At the moment we know that policing is ineffective.
“If the police want to deal with the criminals, you and I know that they are hampered from doing so, they are hampered structurally, they are hampered by the fact that they are not as well equipped as they ought to be, and they are not resourced as they ought to be but the structural problem is the major one.
“A country of this size needs some form of community policing because criminality is always local, we need to have policemen who understand the local language, who live in the local community, who understand the language. So there is logic in it to have community policing”.
The event powered by Covenant Christian Centre had the theme: “Business and governance”.