By Austin Fair Nwaulu
The emergence of successive administrations especially the present one has brought in its wake different procedures and coinages hitherto underplayed in criminal litigations. And almost on daily basis these new introductions are gaining a lot of momentum as they become a sing song sort of.
‘’Plea Bargain’’ which has become synonymous with the formidable state agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], is one of them and became famous when corrupt suspects or convicts were said to engage in an agreement which allows them to refund looted funds instead of being hounded into prison. These have been the thoughts of many.
But a Lagos lawyer, Ajagba Stephen C., in his contributions to the development of law in Nigeria and the world, has presented it in its true perspective. He has authored a book titled ‘’The Principles of Plea’’, just published and released.
The book is a complete legal text with regard to plea bargain, the components and practical procedure of it, which contains table of cases, table legislation and abbreviation, above all appendices to guild stakeholders in criminal litigation that embrace the special criminal procedure.
Formally unveiled at the Nigeria Bar Association [NBA] Ikeja Branch, Lagos recently, the book attracted a lot of legal luminaries with Femi Falana [SAN] as the chairman who commended the author for his breakthrough in authoring a book which many are yearning to have. Adeyinka Olumide Fusika, another SAN was also present.
Expectedly, the EFCC was duly represented. Amed M Ghali, Lagos Zonal Head was there and equally conveyed the chairman’s message from Abuja. Worth noting amongst the myriad of the commendable messages that poured in include Mr Falana’s call on other lawyers present to emulate the author’s giant stride and explore the other virgin areas in the profession.
And for other legal luminaries like the Lagos State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo [SAN], Dada Awosika [SAN], Lawal Pedro (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba[SAN], Muiz Banire [SAN], and a host of others believe that the book will help in addressing the issues in plea bargain.
Similarly ABC Obiukwu, Senior Partner Soft Skills Consulting and Director of African Development Institute believes that the book came at the right time in the history of Nigeria and Africa as a whole, stressing that it will no doubt reduce legal cost and judicial time wastage in our system.
‘’Plea Bargain’’ expatiates more on what happens on plea bargain,its history and why it happened. It also expatiates that the process encourages restorative justice and social justice provided the procedure is properly applied.
“The major research in the book, published by Perfect Letters Limited is that ’Fine’ alone should not be the only punishment in plea bargain in order to shun the abuse of the procedure,’’ Mr Ajagba, the author explained and took the occasion to its climax when rendered a poem he specially wrote for the book launch and did it so eloquently to entertain the guests.
Earlier, the author who expressed delight to everyone for honouring the invitation, said that he authored the book to cover the vacuum created by insufficient authorities in plea bargain procedure within and outside Nigeria. He added how he did not allow distractions like ‘’’nobody reads book these days,’’ personal leisure, among other things deter him from publishing the book.
‘’I took the challenge to write the book when I could not get an indigenous text book on plea bargain for my seminar paper during my master’s degree programme.’’ According to him, it was a six-year project that started in the year 2016.