ICPC Backs Creation Of Special Courts For Corruption Cases

ICPC Backs Creation Of Special Courts For Corruption Cases
File Photo

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has supported the establishment of special courts for corruption cases.

Acting Chairman of ICPC, Dr Musa Abubakar, stated this during a lecture he delivered over the weekend in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

According to a statement by the spokesperson for the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, he gave a speech titled ‘Corruption, Economic and Financial Crimes: Special Courts to the Rescue’ during the 5th Criminal Justice Reform Conference organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the state.

Dr Abubakar stressed that the creation of special courts for corruption cases would remove the bottlenecks associated with the judgment on corruption matters in the conventional courts.

“Establishing a special court to adjudicate over corruption and other financial crimes is one thing we have longed for since the establishment of our commission. The proposal will no doubt put flesh to the provision of Section 61 (3) of the ICPC Act 2000, which requires that Chief Judges of states should designate a court specifically to deal with corruption cases and other related matters.

“The clamour for the establishment of such special courts is borne out of the desire to ensure expeditious disposal of such corruption and financial crime cases. Instances abound where cases pending in our conventional courts are stagnated and unduly delayed,” he said.

The ICPC boss further argued that the creation of special courts would free-up judges from other responsibilities, in view of the fact that most of them are overloaded with different cases.

He disclosed that recent research by the commission into the reasons for delays in the disposal of corruption cases revealed that assigning too many cases to one judge was one of the major causes of delays.

Dr Abubakar added that 83% of the respondents endorsed the creation of specialised courts to handle only corruption cases, as that would expedite and fast-track the prosecution of such cases and in turn lead to more convictions.

He, however, observed that the creation of special courts without full implementation of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 would not bring the desired turnaround in the criminal justice system.

The ICPC acting chairman also cited the alleged wilful delay of court processes, especially by defence lawyers in corruption cases to frustrate prosecutions in complete violation of Section 396 (3) of the ACJA Act.

“In as much as the ICPC subscribes to the establishment of special courts, I make bold to say that there would hardly be any difference if the defence lawyers maintain their usual tactics of frustrating the smooth administration of justice,” he stressed.

Abubakar called on both the bench and bar to contribute their quota in the fight against corruption by eliminating all forms of delay in the trial of corruption cases.

Lagos Chief Judge Inaugurates Special Courts For Corruption Cases

Lagos Chief Judge Inaugurates Special Courts For Corruption Cases
File Photo

 

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, has inaugurated four special courts solely to try corruption cases.

The courts, tagged “Special Offences Courts”, were inaugurated at a well-attended ceremony on Thursday in Ikeja, the state capital.

Sometime in 2017, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, had instructed all heads of courts across the country to create special courts for the speedy trial of corruption cases.

On her part, Justice Oke explained that the launch of the courts was in obedience to a directive given by the CJN, even as there are more than 500 financial crimes cases pending before various High Courts in the state.

She was, however, hopeful that the cases would enjoy expeditious hearing with the launch of the special courts.

The Chief Judge added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant bodies would be encouraged to expedite the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

Apart from corruption and financial crimes cases, the Special Offences Courts will exclusively handle cybercrimes and other related offences.

They are also meant to attend to sexual and domestic violence cases, which Justice Oke said had grown to alarming height in the country.

A representative of the Lagos State government said adequate support would be given to the judiciary in the expeditious prosecution of corruption cases.

Also speaking at the event, the EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, urged the Chief Judges in other states to emulate Lagos by ensuring the establishment of similar courts.

APDA Commends CJN For Establishing Special Courts For Corruption Cases

The Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA) has commended the judiciary and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for establishing special courts for corruption cases.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Tosin Adeyanju, APDA also commended the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for “his unrelenting effort to bring all the persons who looted or aided in looting our commonwealth to justice”.

“We are of the unrepentant stance that corruption is the biggest challenge to the sustainable development of our country and only it’s eradication can return our nation back to the part of development, national cohesion and social inclusiveness,” the party said.

Chief Justice Of Nigeria Not Under Investigation – EFCC
File photo: Justice Walter Onnoghen

Apart from welcoming the establishment of special courts for corruption cases, APDA praised the whistle-blower policy and called on Nigerians to expose corrupt practices and resist forces bent on destabilising the nation.

“We thank all Nigerians who have spoken up against the machinations of agents of destablisation and urge all Nigerians to stand together and work towards an indivisible united, peaceful and prosperous nation,” it said.

“APDA rejects hate speech and hateful conduct and urge the relevant agencies to resist agents and promoters of hate speech, impunity and disregard for our ethics and values.”

Special Courts: Lawyer Commends CJN’s Initiative

A Legal Practitioner, Mr. Wahab Shittu, has commended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen over his initiative of setting up special courts, saying it is aimed at redeeming the image of the judiciary.

Shittu, while speaking to Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said, “Not only is this a good way to go, but it also unprecedented.

“We are getting to the golden era of the Nigerian judiciary when we had the likes of JSC Taylor, the likes of Eshho, Obaseki – judges who were integrity driven.

“I think Justice Walter Onnoghen has made a very powerful statement. He has demonstrated clearly his commitment to the anti-corruption war.

“He is determined to restore the image of the Nigerian judiciary and has also shown clearly his commitment to the speedy determination of cases, particularly cases relating to financial crimes,” he added.

Cross River Govt. Donates Vehicles To Special Courts

Cross River, Special CourtsThe Cross River State Government has presented seven utility vehicles to special courts established in the state as part of efforts to ensure the speedy dispensation of justice.

The courts are Revenue, Forestry, Environmental and Sanitation, Traffic, Arbitration and Miscellaneous Matters, Medical and Pharmaceutical, as well as Ports and Allied Matters.

Presenting the vehicles at the Governor’s Office in Calabar to the Chairman of the task force, Deputy Governor of the State, Prof Ivara Esu, reiterated the readiness of government to support the courts in the discharge of their duties, pointing out that the courts would be mobile in nature.

According to him, the special courts which takes off July 1, 2016, will ensure that the issue of evading taxes and levies are adequately addressed.

He added that the courts will move from bakeries to schools, to hospitals, forestry, private clinics, market square and timber markets to ensure that those who are supposed to pay one form of tax to government do so.

Special Courts Debate with Lagi Innocent

On the issue of the proposed Special Courts on terrorism/corruption cases,most of the legal professionals supported the idea as the Senate quashed it.

Sunrise Daily had Lagi Innocent; a former member of the Nassarawa State Assembly and a lawyer in the studio to shed light on it.