The fight against corruption is taking a new direction as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, has ordered heads of the divisions of courts to create special courts for corruption and financial crimes cases.
NAIJ.com learnt that Onnoghen said this directive is to end the unnecessary delay associated with the prosecution of corruption cases.
The Sun reports that the CJN also ordered that all lists of pending corruption cases in the various courts be forwarded to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Onnoghen said this when he spoke on Monday, September 18, at the special session of the Supreme Court where he administered oath on 29 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) before Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee will be constituted at the next council meeting to help the NJC monitor and effectively enforce the foregoing policy.
He said the committee would be saddled with, among other things, the responsibility of ensuring that both trial and appellate courts handling corruption and financial crime cases key into and abide by our renewed efforts at ridding our country of the cankerworm.
He directed heads of courts to go against prosecution and defence counsel who indulge in the unethical practices of delaying and stalling criminal trials.
“Heads of Courts are now to report such cases to the NJC which in turn, would transmit them to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, in the case of Senior Advocates, and Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee in the case of other Legal Practitioners.
“Heads of Courts have been directed to designate in their various jurisdictions, one or more Courts, depending on the volume of such cases, as special courts solely for the purpose of hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crime cases.
“Where such cases come on appeal, to either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, Special Dates on each week, shall be fixed solely for hearing and determining such appeals,” he said.
He added: “We are under no illusion that the fight against corruption would be an easy one, as we are already aware that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back; but we are determined to win it. We require all hands to be on deck to fight this monster.
“We in the Supreme Court, having reduced the pre-election appeals in the course of the Third Term of the last Legal year, will devote much of this First Term in dealing, by way of task work, with the identified eighteen (18) EFCC, ICPC, and Economic Crime cases alongside the normal Civil, Criminal, and Political cases.
“We must not lose sight of the indispensable role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption.
“Corruption continues to place the judiciary in the eye of the storm, but, we cannot allow that to deter us or weaken our resolve.
“It is regrettable that the image of the judiciary has been tarnished by the notion that the Nigerian judiciary is bedeviled by corrupt elements, hence the need for an image building parade.
“We must accept that acts of misconduct of a few rub off on the rest of the judiciary and create the impression that all judicial officers have their hands soiled with the proceeds of corruption.
“Let me be clear here; it is not going to be business as usual for the few unscrupulous elements in our midst.
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“Any judicial officer found wanting would be dealt with decisively, and shown the way out swiftly. It is therefore for this reason that the independence of the judiciary must be entrenched if we are to hold the trust and confidence of the citizens of Nigeria.
“We, in the judiciary are fully aware and in fact worried by concerns expressed by members of the public on the very slow speed with which corruption cases in particular are being heard or determined by our courts.”
NAIJ.com earlier reported that Justice Walter Onnoghen directed the Chief Judge of Sokoto state, Justice Bello Abbas to commence necessary action against a Sharia court judge in the state.
The CJN in a letter signed by the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Danladi Halilu forwarded two petitions dated April 3, by Malam Hassan Ahmed Danbaba and his counsel Yusuf Dankofa against a lower court judge in the state.
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