Dr. Awa Kalu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has lambasted the Nigerian government for publishing names of alleged looters.
He said what the government did was similar to an individual taking the law into his hands.
“If you have charged somebody to court, what our constitution says is that you enjoy the presumption of innocence, which is stipulated in the Constitution”, he told New Telegraph.
“That is to say that the person, who has brought the allegation of corruption has the onus – and it’s a very heavy onus – to prove that indeed, you are corrupt.
”It is when the court has finished the judicial process and returned a verdict. If the verdict is one of guilt, then whoever wants to make a publication should do so.”
The former Abia State Justice Commissioner and Attorney-General also described publication of the names in advance of conviction is provocative.
“Rather, it is a resort to self-help. And self-help is not allowed in law otherwise there will be chaos.
”So, if you have taken your matter to court, all that is required is for you to be patient. Even if it’s an arbitration matter you must be patient, for people to look at the facts dispassionately.
”In the criminal justice system we enjoy in this country, trial by press, which is what has happened, is not allowed; for some to find you guilty in his mind, and then when you are cleared – say by a court of law – then accusing fingers, tongues would start wagging, and that is unsettling.
”I think that if we still believe in trial by judicial process, we should allow the paramouncy of the judicial process to reign supreme. If we begin to condemn people individually, that will not work.”