Ex-NBA President Chief Thompson Okpoko advocates for the establishment of National prosecution service.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Chairman of Body of Benchers, Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN) has advocated the establishment of a National Prosecution Service in the fight against corruption in the country.

He said suggestions for specialised court system for corruption cases should be handled with care to ensure that it does not violate section 36 of the constitution, noting that even at that, there is no evidence that it will fare better than ordinary High Courts.

Okpoko made his position known weekend at the Second Matriculation of 270 students and First distinguished lecture of Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo in Burutu Local Government area of Delta State.
Delivering a lecture titled ‘Collective Responsibility for Cleansing the Nigerian Nation of its Social Cancer’, he maintained that there is no evidence that specialised courts would solve the problems in prosecution of corrupt cases.

“If history is anything to go by, elections tribunals were established in response to the call for a specialised court system to deal with election matters. Today we are wiser. The election tribunals operating today have not shown with conviction that corruption is not fully in place in the tribunals,” he said.
Rather than establish specials courts for corruption cases, Okpoko maintained that it is more meaningful and sensible for the nation to establish a National Prosecution Service consisting of lawyers to be trained in prosecution of corruption cases nationwide.

He said, “The suggestion here is that such a service be set up as an independent prosecuting body whose duty will be to conduct prosecution of corrupt cases and assisting investigators, EFCC and the regulatory authorities in the investigations of the complaint of corruption and money laundering, so as to ensure that the materials required in prosecuting a citizen of corruption is properly investigated and the results placed before the courts for all to see”.

The Legal Luminary said it would be the duty of the National Prosecuting Service to direct the process of prosecution of corrupt persons through the ordinary court system, adding that by their training and experience, the Service could then reach out to experienced and trusted counsel in private practice to assist.

Okpoko commended President Buhari for his dogged fight against corruption which he said has eaten deep into the Nigerian system from the country’s British colonial era and grown progressively worse more than before.
He said since President Buhari came into office and declared war on corruption, doubting Thomases have maintained that he couldn’t win the war saying that the cankerworm would resurface after his tenure, reminding all that efforts to tackle the disease should be beyond his government.

“Some pseudo commentators and doubting Thomases have been heard to say that President Buhari cannot win the war against corruption during his tenure and that the past era of corruption will reappear after his tenure. To this class of Nigerians, one must express sadness at the level of their understanding and thinking.
“President Buhari has no personal war to fight; he is fighting the Nigerian war against corruption. It behoves all of us who believe that corruption is bad for the country to take up the challenge and team up with Mr. President”, he added.

Okpoko urged the federal government to employ moral persuasion through religious bodies, professional bodies, organised non-governmental organisations including trade unions and the press to engage the support of all Nigerians in the fight against corruption.

In his remark, Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Timothy Olagbemiro said the Distinguished Lecturer was carefully selected for the occasion to tap from his wide experience having achieved so much in all fronts in the course of practising the legal profession.

He disclosed that the ECU was licensed in March 2015 as the 60th private university in Nigeria and had grown since then with academic activities in Faculties of Humanities, Social and Management Sciences and faculty of Sciences.
Olagbemiro charged the 270 matriculated students to be dedicated to their studies with the desire to come out in flying colours.


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