The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has said the proposal by a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, to return N400m is not enough to quash his case.
Metuh’s lead defence counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had said his client had told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he was willing to return the N400m he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November, 2014.
Metuh is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly receiving the money, which the prosecution alleged was collected from the $2.1bn arms funds allegedly diverted by the former NSA’s office to other purposes aside from buying arms to fight insurgency.
Speaking with newsmen on Thursday, however, Sagay said once a criminal matter had been brought to court and the accused person brought up a negotiation, there must be some form of punishment.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria explained that plea bargain in Nigerian law was for the purpose of saving the state the time and resources from prosecuting a case over a long period of time and still end up not achieving a conviction.
The anti-corruption committee chairman maintained that plea bargain should come in when the prosecution could not state categorically that it would succeed and the defence made an offer to be charged with a lesser offence and punished for that offence or be given a lesser sanction than would normally apply if the particular person was given full punishment for that offence.
He added, “So, the point I want to make is that once a case has been taken to court, there can be no negotiation of return of money without punishment. That is impossible and can never happen because if that happens, then it is breach of the law.
“It would have been a different thing if the man had not been charged and maybe he was being interrogated and he quickly brought out the money during investigations. He can return the money and negotiate his way out although morally, it should not be but it is not illegal.”
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