Rotimi Jacobs, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and independent prosecutor for the federal government, lost the false assets declaration suit brought against Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, but there are indications that the sound criminal lawyer may not be to blame.
Aside Saraki’s case, there are many other ongoing high-profile corruption cases being handled by Jacobs, drawing attention to the failure of the government to engage the adequate number of lawyers required to prosecute the anti-corruption campaign.
For example, the Saraki case had to be adjourned several times due to the absence of Rotimi Jacobs in court mostly because he had other court dates to keep.
It was initially believed that Jacobs was attached to the EFCC, but the commission clarified that he is an independent lawyer for the federal government and could be drafted to represent any of its ministries departments or agencies.
“The learned silk (Jacobs) is an independent lawyer for the state. He could also be counsel to ICPC, NIA or DSS,” explained the EFCC via its twitter handle.
The learned silk is an independent lawyer for the state. He could also be counsel to ICPC, NIA or DSS.
— EFCC Nigeria (@officialEFCC) June 15, 2017
Here are a few other cases being handled by Jacobs:
EFCC VS ALEX BADEH
Rotimi Jacobs is leading the FG prosecution team trying to nail Alex Badeh, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, who has been slammed with a 10-count charge of corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
Badeh allegedly abused his office by using the dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4 billion removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase property in choice areas of Abuja between January and December, 2013.
EFCC VS SAMBO DASUKI
Jacobs is also in charge of the corruption trial of Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser (NSA), who is accused of misappropriating the sum of $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms.
Badeh has remained in custody since 2015 even though that he has been granted bail on the different charges brought against him.
EFCC VS RAYMOND DOKPESI
Dokpesi’s trial is a fallout of the trial against Dasuki. The DAAR Communications Plc founder is accused of receiving N2.1 billion from the office of the NSA during the campaign for the 2015 general election.
Dokpesi pleaded not guilty, saying the money was payment for professional work for the media campaign of Goodluck Jonathan.
But the Rotimi Jacobs-led prosecution claims that the money was part of the $2.1 billion traced to Dasuki, insisting that the accused person ought to have known that as the office of the NSAA is not an appendage of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
EFCC VS GABRIEL SUSWAM
Gabriel Suswam, immediate past Governor of Benue State, was charged by the EFCC on allegations of money laundering, abuse of office and illegal possession of fire arms.
The EFCC also claims that Suswam and Terwase Akwaza, also known as ‘Ghana’, a wanted criminal in Benue, are responsible for the series of killings and violence that the state has witnessed in recent times.
Again, Rotimi Jacobs is leading the prosecution.
EFCC VS ORJI KALU
As if he is not busy enough, Jacobs will have to fly to Lagos on each trial date in the corruption case against Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State, which is holding at the Lagos State division of the federal high court.
The EFCC said Kalu misappropriated Abia State funds during his governorship days. The case has continued to drag with little progress made so far.
EFCC VS JIDE OMOKORE AND FIVE OTHERS
Rotimi Jacobs is also in charge of the prosecution team in the $1.6 billion fraud suit against Jide Omokore, a billionaire oil magnate, and five other accused persons.
It is thought that the lack of competent prosecutors in the employ of the federal government could be the reason for the many losses so far recorded in the anti-corruption fight.
The list is by no means exhaustive as there are other corruption cases being led by Jacobs on behalf of FG.
TIME FOR MORE EXTERNAL LAWYERS
Femi Falana, a senior human rights lawyer, once wrote an opinion on the many cases being lost by the federal government in the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
Blaming the government for improper investigation and poor prosecution, he said the problem was not the fault of the judiciary nor a case of corruption fighting back.
“As far as I am concerned the cases were lost due to official negligence and lack of interagency cooperation by the federal ministry of justice, the anti-graft agencies and the State Security Service,” Falana noted.
“Under the Obasanjo administration both the ICPC and EFCC led by the Honourable Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd) and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu respectively engaged the services of external lawyers in the prosecution of many high profile cases.
“In fact, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN who has successfully prosecuted more corruption cases than any lawyer in Nigeria is an external lawyer.”
So, has the time come for the federal government, to enlist the best legal brains in the anti-corruption war if it must emerge victorious?