Customs, NDDC are still corrupt – Sagay

Customs, NDDC are still corrupt  –  Sagay
March 03 08:57 2017

The  chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has lamented that despite efforts of the present administration, a lot of corruption was still going in some government parastatals.

Sagay criticized the management of Nigeria Customs Service and the Niger Delta Development Commission for allowing the continuation of certain  corrupt transactions.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day National Dialogue on Corruption, organised by PACAC at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, Sagay said the NDDC recently spent huge sums of money on needless vehicles.

“You will not believe that with all that we are going through, the NDDC, which is the other name for uncompleted projects, has just bought over 70 cars.

“Of those, about eight of them are Super Lexus Jeeps, costing N78m each and about 10 are Land Cruisers, costing N63m each.

“This money was taken from funds for infrastructure, water, housing, hospitals, school, etc., without conscience, recklessly, without a thought for the wretched people of the Niger Delta.”

Sagay added that despite the purchase, the commission’s Managing Director was quoted in newspapers as saying the NDDC lacked funds to execute projects and was in debt to the tune of N1.2tn.

“What sort of crocodile tears was the MD shedding?  Eating the resources and future of the Niger Delta and shedding tears for the same Niger Delta?” Sagay asked.

The scholar said nothing has changed in the Customs since 2015.

He continued: “There is no difference in Customs since May 29, 2015. If you go to Tin Can Island, it is business as usual,” he declared.

Sagay wondered why a person would loot what he could not spend in 10 life times while exposing the rest of the population to misery.

He also blamed the judiciary for systematically allowing high profile corruption cases drag for too long in the courts.

He contended that  in spite of the provisions of Section 396 of the ACJA, some judges were still granting adjournments running into months and would adjourn their cases to give a ruling on preliminary objection instead of giving the ruling at the same time as the judgment on the substantive criminal matter.

He added that contrary to Section 306, which provides that an application for stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before the court should not be entertained, some courts still adjourned in order to await the outcome of an interlocutory appeal.

“All these are illegal and strictly constitute acts of misconduct on the part of the judge. The outcome of all these is that we have over hundred high profile cases not going nowhere.

“One of the most tragic phenomena currently creating a major setback for speedy criminal trials, is this new invention of Senior Advocates of Nigeria defending looters and other financial criminals.

“They deliberately set out to cross-examine prosecution witness for weeks in the hope of dragging on the trial indefinitely.  One prosecution witness was, in recent times, cross-examined for over a month while the judge sat there helplessly, clearly having lost control of his own court.

“All he needed to do was to give such filibustering counsel a time limit, say two hours, and the nonsense would have stopped,” he stated.

Sagay  observed that the fastest trials that recorded in the country were those in which bail was not granted to the high-profile accused persons.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnogen, however protested the idea of singling out the judiciary for blame, saying impunity perpetrated by the executive was responsible for encouraging corruption.

The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, asked stakeholders to stop the blame game.

“Clearly, there is no doubt whatsoever, whether any arm of government can excuse itself. The truth of the matter is that we all know that corruption in Nigeria is systemic.

“It does not matter whether it is the Executive arm of government, the Judiciary or the Legislature, every arm of government is involved in this systemic and life-threatening social anomaly called corruption.

“So, I think we should leave the finger pointing, because the finger pointing is unhelpful. What is important is that we recognise that there is a major problem here,” he said.