Lawyer and Rights Activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said that the linking of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to the robbery incident in Offa, Kwara State, has no political undertone.
He made the assertion while speaking with New Telegraph after participating at an event tagged, ‘Civil Society Roundtable on Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the abolition of stay of proceedings in criminal trials’ organized by an NGO, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).
The silk said it would be erroneous for anyone to say that Saraki’s linkage to the robbery incident was politically motivated owing to the confessions allegedly made by the bandits that carried out the robbery to the police.
He said: “In any neo-colonial setting, the rich and the politically exposed persons politicize their trials. A group of young men who engaged in the most nefarious offence in Kwara state that led to the death of 33 people including pregnant women and policemen has linked the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Kwara state governor, Abdul fatah Ahmed, to their acts. Where is the politics in all these? These young men are saying that the vehicles we used were bought for us by these two gentlemen.
“Investigation into the matter was on when the Senate president raised the alarm over alleged plans by the police to implicate him. He knew what was being investigated at that point in time when he raised the alarm. At that time, the chief of staff of Kwara who was accused of making efforts to re-register the vehicle used by the bandits was already in detention. So, I can’t see the political victimization. The Senate president should first address the allegations, we can talk about politics later”.
Speaking on the topic, “The Constitutional validity of stay of proceedings in criminal trials in Nigeria”, Falana noted that the issue of stay of proceedings is a class matter as it is usually being deployed by powerful criminal suspects and their lawyers.
He lauded the recent pronouncement by the Supreme Court on the issue saying it had shut out lawyers who take delight in employing all sort of tactics to delay criminal trials.
“We need to commend the Supreme Court for this bold decision arrived at in the case involving a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh and the Federal Government”, the silk said.
In his submissions, a Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, suggested that practice directions should be issued out to judicial officers for them to desist from granting stay of proceedings in criminal matters. He also called for sanctions against any legal practitioner found to have engaged in unnecessary delay of criminal trial.
Also speaking at the event, an EFCC’s prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), noted that the promulgation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in 2015 has helped the anti-graft agency to successfully conclude criminal trials.