CJN Urges States To Domesticate Criminal Justice Act

walter-onnoghen-acting-chief-justice-of-nigeriaThe Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has called on state governments to domesticate and implement the Criminal Justice Act.

This according to him, is to effectively resolve the challenge of prison congestion and delay in courts.

Represented by the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, at a judicial colloquium on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in Abuja, the CJN noted that the application of the Federal Law through the state Houses of Assembly, would fast track judicial decisions which would in turn protect and empower citizens.

Furthermore, she revealed that 70% of the prison population in the country are awaiting trial; a situation she says speaks volumes of the system.

However, after years of mere talk, the judiciary have once again swung open the doors of reforms in the justice system, while also hoping that the government would invest in it more, so as to meet growing demands.

Court Adjourns Trial Of Ladoja, Aide Till March 1

Court, Rashidi Ladoja, Waheed Akanbi, FraudThe Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 1 for the commencement of trial of former Oyo State Governor, Mr Rashidi Ladoja, alongside one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, over an alleged 4.7 billion Naira fraud.

The date was fixed after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Oluwafemi Olabisi, urged the court for an adjournment to enable him supply to the defence team the names of witnesses that would testify in the matter.

The former governor and his aide were arraigned before the court by the EFCC on an amended eight-count charge of alleged money laundering and unlawful conversion of funds belonging to the Oyo State government.

Mr Ladoja and Mr Akanbi, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Attempts made by the prosecution counsel on Tuesday to examine the first prosecution witness in the case was rebutted by lawyers to the defendants, Mr Bolaji Onilenla and Mr Olumide Fusika.

The lawyers argued that the witness could not testify on grounds that his name was not on the list of witnesses earlier supplied to them by the anti-graft agency in 2008.

They also insisted that what the EFCC was trying to do was to set an ambush for them, stating that it was contrary to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Although Mr Olabisi admitted the error, he pointed out that as at the time they filed the case nine years ago, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law had not been promulgated.

He therefore urged the court to adjourn the proceedings to enable him file additional proof of evidence to rectify the error.

After listening to the counsel, Justice Idris adjourned the case till March 1 for commencement of trial.

Offences

  • In one of the counts, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of converting a sum of 1,932,940,032.48 Naira belonging to Oyo State government to theirs, using a Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.
  • The EFCC claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal conduct.
  • In another instance, the former governor was accused of removing a sum of £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to one Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London.
  • He was also accused of converting a sum of 42 million naira belonging to the state to his own and subsequently used it to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.
  • Mr Ladoja was also accused of converting a sum of 728,600,000 Naira and another 77,850,000 Naira at separate times in 2007 to his own.
  • The EFCC claimed that he transferred the 77, 850,000 Naira to one Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
  • The anti-graft agency stated that the offences are contrary to sections 17(a) and 18(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
  • They added that the crimes are liable to be punished under sections 14(1), 16(a)(b) and 18(2) of the same act.

Buhari Expresses Worry Over Delayed Corruption Cases

Corruption CasesPresident Muhammadu Buhari has expressed worry over what he calls the delay of corruption cases before various courts across the country.

The President, on Monday called the attention of Nigerians to deferred corruption cases in his speech, during the anti-corruption summit in Abuja, on the role of judges in the fight against corruption.

He said that the expectation of the Nigerian public was yet to be met with regards to the removal of delayed cases filed before the courts.

President Buhari noted that it was unfortunate that the courts were tolerating delay by defense lawyers in the various cases of corruption filed by the government.

“This needs to change if we are to make success of our collective efforts  in the fight against corruption,” he said.

Buhari-Judiciary-Summit

He raised concerns that no corruption case before any Nigerian court was progressing as it should, despite the provisions of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, which has made provisions for speedy trial.

The President observed that when cases are not concluded, it sends a negative message that corruption pays.

On his part, the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, said that the judiciary was aware of its responsibility but noted that the job of winning the war on corruption does not rest with the judiciary alone.

The former President of the Commonwealth Judges and Magistrate Association, Hon. Justice John Vertes, who was the guest speaker, said that judicial and political corruption work together to affect societies.

It is therefore important that all arms of government play their role in ensuring that the country does not suffer because of corruption.

Buhari-Judiciary

DSS Arrests Dasuki Again

dasukiThe operatives of Department of State Service (DSS) on Monday morning arrested the immediate past National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) in Abuja.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had fixed December 3 for the hearing of the motion filed by the Federal Government seeking to revoke the bail granted to the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the federal government, Mr Mohammed Diri, told the court that a notice of appeal has been lodged at the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment of the court granting bail to the former National Security Adviser.

The former NSA was charged to court with illegal possession of arms following a siege to his Abuja home and subsequent arrest in July. The charge against him was later expanded to include money laundering.

But a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Mr Dasuki permission to travel abroad for medical attention pending the commencement of his trial on the November 26 and 27.

Ruling on the application filed by Mr Dasuki, Justice Adeniyi Ademola granted the former National Security Adviser a period of three weeks within which to take care of his health abroad.

However, few days after this ruling, the home of Colonel Sambo Dasuki in the nation’s capital, Abuja was surrounded by men of the DSS and the siege was described as an attempt to ensure that he did not leave the country, as the former NSA accused the Federal Government of abuse of power.

The DSS debunked the claim that its operatives invaded the home of the former National Security Adviser in defiance of a court order granting him permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The DSS in a statement, explained that the action by its officers is caused by the refusal of Mr. Dasuki to honour an invitation by a committee investigating his alleged involvement in the 2 billion dollars arms procurement process by the past administration.

The statement added that his refusal to appear before the committee compelled the DSS to adopt a legal means to ensure his attendance.

“Sambo was initially arrested and charged to court for unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering, for which reason his international passport was seized and on the order of the court, returned to the registrar for custody.

“What has however brought the seeming standoff between Sambo and the Service, despite the court-ordered release of his international passport on 4th November, 2015, is his refusal to appear before a Committee undertaking the investigation of an entirely different case.” the DSS said.

The former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki, denied ever receiving any invitation letter to appear before a committee set up by the current administration to investigate procurement processes relating to any arms transaction by the last administration, under which he served.

 

States Lawmakers Discuss How To Domicile Criminal Justice Act

Yobe State House of AssemblySpeakers of State Houses of Assembly are meeting in Ilorin the capital of Kwara State to deliberate how to domicile the Criminal Justice Act in their respective states for fairness, orderliness and quick dispensation of justice.

The two-day conference holding at the banquet hall of Kwara Hotel had Speakers or their representatives from different States in attendance.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmed, explained that the conference would amend areas of flaws that had been observed with the Federal Act.

He said that they would agree on a single model administration of Criminal Justice bill that would be enacted by each state within an agreed time frame.

Dr Ahmed hoped that the conference would lay the road map to fast track legislative steps towards state level adoption of the administration of the Criminal Justice Act.

Management Of Criminal Justice

Addressing the lawmakers at the opening of the occasion, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, advocated for a more dynamic constitutional amendment process to enable the legislative arm modify existing laws while retaining the safeguards necessary to maintain their sanctity.

According to him, a sound criminal justice system is imperative for economic growth, political stability and social equilibrium.

Governor Ahmed called for solid foundation of good laws that could curb anti-social behaviours and other disruptive tendencies in the society.

Also at the event was the representative of the United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes, Dr. Belachew Fikre.

He said the body would continue to support the administration of Criminal Justice Act in order to promote effective management of criminal justice, quick dispensation of justice as well as protection of the rights of suspects.

The law, when fully operational, will ensure that a criminal trial begins and ends within four to six months instead of the former practice of between 12 to 15 years.

Dasuki’s Bail Revocation Suit: Court Fixes Dec. 3 For Hearing

DasukiA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed December 3 for the hearing of the motion filed by the Federal Government seeking to revoke the bail granted to the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the federal government, Mr Mohammed Diri, told the court that a notice of appeal has been lodged at the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment of the court granting bail to the former National Security Adviser.

Ruling on another application seeking to ensure the presence of Colonel Dasuki in court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola said that it is not compulsory for a defendant to be present in court when interlocutory applications are being heard. He added that, in line with Section 266b of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, accused persons are mandated to be in court during trial for criminal cases.

Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who pleaded not guilty to a one-count charge of alleged illegal possession of firearms, preferred against him by the federal government had earlier been granted bail by a Federal High Court to enable him seek medical attention abroad.

House of Assembly Speakers Meet Over Criminal Justice Act

States’ Speakers Meet Over Criminal Justice ActSpeakers of state Houses of Assembly have met on how to domicile the Criminal Justice Act in their respective states for fairness, orderliness and quick dispensation of justice.

The legislators gathered at the Banquet Hall of Kwara Hotel in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital for a two-day conference of Speakers to deliberate on the need ensure that states implement the Criminal Justice Act.

The Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmed, said that the conference would amend those areas of flaws that had been observed and agree on a single model administration of Criminal Justice Bill that would be enacted by each state within an agreed time frame.

Dr. Ahmed expressed hope that the conference would lay the road map to fast track legislative steps towards state level adoption of the administration of the Criminal Justice Act.

In his address, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, advocated a more dynamic constitutional amendment process to enable the legislative arm and the whole country respond to critical needs to modify existing laws while retaining the safeguards necessary to maintain their sanctity.

According to him, “A sound criminal justice system is imperative for economic growth, political stability and social equilibrium”. Governor Ahmed called for a solid foundation of good laws that could curb anti-social behaviors and other disruptive tendencies in the society.

A representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, Dr. Belachew Fikre, who was at the event, promised that the body would continue to support the administration of Criminal Justice Act, in order to promote effective management of criminal justice, quick dispensation of justice as well as protection of the rights of suspects.

Justice Minister’s Absence Stalls Dasuki’s Suit Hearing Again

Justice Minister Absent In Court Over Dasuki's BailThe Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has failed to appear before a court over the right enforcement suit filed by the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).

Mr Malami again refused to show up at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to explain why the order of the court granting Mr Dasuki permission to travel for medical treatment was being flouted.

At the resumed hearing of the suit on Monday, the Federal Government opposed the application for the enforcement of fundamental human rights filed by Dasuki on the ground that he needed to be present in court to seek any relief.

The prosecutor, Mr Mohammed Diri, informed the court that he had filed an application seeking to revoke the bail granted the former NSA.

Relying on section 266 of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, lawyer to Colonel Dasuki, Mr Joseph Daudu, disagreed with the prosecutor.

Mr Daudu said that his client was not on trial and as such, it was not mandatory for him to be physically present in court.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola subsequently adjourned the suit till November 26 for ruling, just as the trial was expected to commence on the same day.

On November 3, the Federal High Court granted Colonel Dasuki permission to travel for medial treatment, by the court’s ruling has not been fully upheld, as some officials of the Department for State Service (DSS) are said to have maintained a siege to the house of the former NSA.

Colonel Dasuki is facing charges for alleged money laundering and unlawful possession of firearms. He has denied the allegations, saying he acted in the interest of the nation.

The Federal Government had filed an amended charge against the former National Security Adviser, after his arraignment on a one-count charge of unlawful possession of firearms without licence.

The prosecution expanded the charges to include money laundering and also applied to the court for a secret trial Mr Dasuki as well as protection for all its witnesses in the suit.