Odinkalu: Nigeria has over 120,000 lawyers but still relies on UK to try ex-govs/ministers

Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), is unhappy with the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases abroad in spite of the numerous human resources in the country’s judiciary.

Odinkalu urged Africa to start taking its institutions seriously and not always look abroad for “salvation”.

He said this on Thursday during an interview on Twitter with a group called the Pan African Citizens Network, PACIN.

Odinkalu expressed sadness that Africa has refused to totally let go off our “histories of colonial government and post-colonial authoritarianism [which] were built on denial of our agency”.

“Democratisation depends on civic agency but you can’t achieve that overnight. You need investment in education,” he said.

“Instead, our rulers are investing in infrastructure of election rigging supported and reinforced by electoral tourism. So, when Kenya voted recently, John Kerry [the Former US Secretary of State] was in a haste to certify the results before the facts were clear.

“But John Kerry is not Kenyan. He was an electoral tourist. If he believed [the way] Africa thinks, he’d have behaved different. Surely, if facts were the same, John Kerry wouldn’t behave in, say, France or even India like he did in Kenya.

“Take Nigeria, it has over 120,000 lawyers but to try corrupt former governors or ministers, it looks to London. Or when you talk of criminal jurisdiction for African courts, folks tell you Africa can’t try its leaders.

“We can’t keep exporting our problems to the world and expect the world to see us as capable.”

Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, who has been accused of gross looting of funds, could face trial in the United Kingdom.

it was the same for James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, who was convicted in the UK and served a five-year jail term for corruption and money laundering before returning to Nigeria.



    “We have to take our own regional institutions seriously, not always see salvation from beyond. That means investing in knowing how they work, building partners among them and using them,” Odinkalu said.

    “Look at ACPHR (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights), it’ll be 30 years in November yet it’s received barely 500 cases in that time.

    “A yearly average of 16 cases from 55 countries gives u 0.29 case per country per annum, right? That average suggests Africans are not using the institution for what it was meant.”

    Odinkalu implored Africa to realise that “our problems are neither unique nor fate. We can overcome them with organised effort”.

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