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Jury system will tackle problem of corrupt judges — Itse Sagay

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, has expressed his support for the defunct jury system in Nigeria as a solution to the alleged corruption
among judges.

Sagay said this during a one-day roundtable organised by PACAC in collaboration with the Jury Justice and Rectitude Advocacy Institute (The Jury Movement) in Abuja on Thursday.

The PACAC chairman explained that the jury system originated in England and that he was not persuaded that Nigeria needed a jury system after it was abolished in Lagos in 1976.

Speaking on the theme of the event, 'Jury Trials in Nigeria and the Review of the Proposed Jury Service Bill', he explained that a judge should be a good arbiter of facts and applier of law, which, he said, would be swifter.

Sagay, however, noted that a few events in the last five to six years have changed his mind.

However, the reviewer of the Jury Service Bill on the occasion, Mrs Olufemi Fatunde, argued against the adoption of the jury system.

According to Fatunde, who is also a former Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, cited ethnic bias and the high cost of housing, feeding and paying the allowances of jurors in an already financially challenged judicial sector, among several other factors militating against the jury system in the country.

She said, "I believe that we don't need it. We have sufficient legal infrastructure on the ground, which, if we only develop, we will be able to cope and our system of criminal justice will be more efficient and effective.

"We don't need the jury system as of now. The present system will work well once all stakeholders are effectively sensitised and they key into it under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. "

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