Lawyers, according to Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), should refrain from obtaining court orders that protect the elite, particularly those accused of corruption.
Falana stated in an article titled ‘Courts Lack Power to Stop Arrest, Investigation, and Prosecution of Criminal Suspects’ that the president, vice president, governors, and their deputies are the only officials who are immune from prosecution.
The human rights lawyer bemoaned the fact that “ordinary” citizens accused of crimes are imprisoned and unable to meet the bail conditions.
“In view of the foregoing, it is pertinent to caution lawyers to desist from obtaining court orders to confer immunity on members of the ruling class contrary to section 308 of the constitution which provides that only the president, vice-president, governors and deputy governors are immune from arrest and prosecution during their term of office,” he said, while quoting a number of supreme court rulings.
“Rich criminal suspects are usually invited by the anti-graft agencies to react to allegations of corruption and other economic crimes leveled against them.
“In many instances, top lawyers are hired by the highly-placed suspects to rush to either the federal high court or state high court to challenge the legality of the invitation letters. Applications for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the suspects to personal liberty are filed.
“In granting the applications, orders of interim, interlocutory and perpetual injunction are made by the courts to restrain the police and anti-graft agencies from arresting, investigating and prosecuting the suspects.
“In many instances, temporary or permanent immunity has been conferred by public officers or private individuals indicted in criminal diversion of multi million Naira public fund.”