Some stakeholders have hailed the 13-year jail sentence on former Delta Governor, James Ibori, for money laundering in a London court on Tuesday.
In Enugu, some lawyers and politician said it was an eye-opener for the Nigerian judiciary and had made a mess of the plea bargaining option adopted in some of the high profile corruption cases decided in Nigeria.
A lawyer, Mr Jerry Okolo (SAN), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the judgment raised ``a big question mark’’ on the Nigerian judiciary, depending on the content of the charges preferred against him in London and those he faced in Nigeria.
``It is an area where the judiciary has to take a hard look at. It doesn’t present a good picture when our courts are saying one thing and other courts are saying a different thing,’’ Okolo said.
He said the case should direct the attention of the judiciary to where to make amends.
Another lawyer, Mr Anali Chude, described the judgment as ``a fair attempt at bringing corrupt politicians to book’’.
Chudesaid the judgment was capable of deterring other political office holders from meddling with public treasury.
He said that plea bargaining in Nigeria had not done enough to bring justice to convicted politicians.
Chude further said that the full weight of the law, such as the one handed down by the London court, should be wielded against any convict.
In his reaction, the CPC gubernatorial candidate in Enugu State in 2011, Mr Osita Okechukwu, said the judgment was a national embarrassment to the Nigerian state.
Okechukwu said that it was regrettable that while Ibori was convicted in London, Nigerian courts were still granting travel permits to other accused politicians facing trial in the country.
He said that Nigerian courts should learn to dispense with justice in accordance with international best practices.
Also in Lagos, some lawyers described the judgment as an indictment of Nigeria’s justice system.
Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, Director, Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, said Nigerian judges should be “fearless and bold” in the discharge of their duties.
Ogungbesan said “the case is embarrassing and I only hope that we can redeem our image in the eyes of the international community.
"They will be wondering how a person of questionable character was voted into power despite his past criminal records."
Mr Wale Ogunade, President, Voters Awareness Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, said it was sad that Ibori escaped justice in Nigeria.
Ogunade said it was painful that the Nigerian judiciary ``discharged him of the charges when it is now clear that the same set of charges were used to convict and sentence him by the UK court.
"We need to put our house in order so that we will not become a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community.”
Mr Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice, a human rights group, said that the Nigerian judiciary needed to be strengthened.
"For us, it is an important milestone in the fight against corruption in Nigeria but it also shows the weakness of our justice system.
"That we had to rely on a foreign court to bring one of our corrupt leaders to justice clearly shows the lapses of our courts and the capacity of those leading the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria," Otteh said. (NAN)