A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ahmed Raji on Thursday said Atiku Abubakar’s promise to grant looters who return stolen funds amnesty is a legal policy.
Atiku had disclosed that he would embark on the policy when he spoke during an interview session on a television programme: The Candidates.
Some critics blasted him, describing it as outrageous but Raji said amnesty to looters accords with the law on plea bargaining.
The senior lawyer noted that plea bargaining was acceptable globally as it saves the state valuable resources and time that would have been wasted on prosecution.
“I don’t think it’s a wrong idea. Even the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) promotes plea bargaining.
“The world is moving towards non-custodial sentencing. If someone has atoned for his sins, why waste time? If they return the stolen funds in full, why not grant them amnesty?
“Instead of taking them to the already overstretched prisons where the state will feed and house them, I don’t think the idea of amnesty or plea bargain is bad. This is without supporting the thieves,” Raji said.
But the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said looters should be held to account.
It believes that Atiku’s proposal would only encouraging more looting of the state treasury.
SERAP tweeted: “Dear @Atiku, granting amnesty for corrupt persons will exacerbate impunity for corruption in Nigeria.
“SERAPNigeria will challenge any such amnesty if it’s ever adopted as a policy should you be elected into the office.
“The corrupt must be held to account and not escape justice.”