Head of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, has been urged to be a good ambassador of the legal profession by ensuring court proceedings are not falsified or misrepresented on the Commission’s official news handle. Owasanoye, who is a 1984 second class upper graduate of Law from the University of Ife, is now a professor of law.
Making this call, a broadcast industry watcher, Dr. Yemi Anthony, noted that the commission, under the watch of a legal luminary, is already flouting the law by misleading the public, on its website, by distorting court proceedings. According to him, this sacrilegious as the head of the organization is someone at home with court processes being a professor of law. He noted further that what the ICPC reels out each after court sittings in the ongoing Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) trial is often fraught with inaccuracies. Anthony stressed that there is a variance between what really takes place in the court and what is churned out to the public from where many news outlets pick their stories. He said, “part of the rule of law is not to engage in media trial but where such matters had to be brought to public knowledge, it must at least be accurate. A situation where daily proceedings of courts are twisted and stuff added to them to sway the public, justice will not have been served. I expect a professor of law to be that thorough in ensuring accuracies.”
Citing an example, Anthony noted that former minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has never said he was misled in paying Pinnacle Communications Limited (PLC), noting that this is the impression the commission has painted through its reporting on its official news handle. He said, “the minister couldn’t have said he was misled. Misled into payments by who? His ministry staffs? Lai Mohammed approved the payment to Pinnacle communications because the work was satisfactorily done and he even participated in commissioning them. At what point could he have been misled? The payments followed all the process. If you said why should they pay a private organization, then what about the other company that was duly paid too? Pinnacle communications did the same work with another company, they were paid too and no word has been heard about it but it’s PCL that is being hounded. In fact when this came up, ICPC said it is not prosecuting the other company.”
Anthony said Professor Uwasanoye has a duty to ensure that justice is done in the matter as his appointment ab initio was to clean the Augean stable. He said, “the Professor must not allow himself to be used. ICPC today must be made to resemble ICPC of the past. The coming of the new team was seen as a shot in the arm for the Commission. So nothing should distract it. Trying to be sensational and attract the media may eventually hurt its credibility.”