19 September 2017

Nigeria: CJN Sets Up Special Courts for Corruption Cases

Photo: Public Domain Pictures
(file photo).

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen has ordered all heads of courts in the federation to compile and forward the lists of all corruption and financial crimes cases in their courts.

Justice Onnoghen also directed them to designate one or two courts in their jurisdiction as Special Courts for the hearing and speedy determination of corruption and financial crimes cases.

The CJN, who reiterated the pegging of legal appearances for each party to five, announced the major reforms in the criminal justice system yesterday in Abuja during the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to 29 senior lawyers.

He said, to effectively monitor and enforce the new policy, an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee will be set up at the next meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

He said the committee would, among other responsibilities, ensure 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 canker worm."

The CJN also directed all heads of courts to clamp down on lawyers who deploy delay tactics in criminal matters before them.

He said the Supreme Court considered 1, 362 in the 2016/2017 legal year, while 243 judgments were delivered.

He solicited the cooperation of the public in the anti-corruption war, and advised litigants, advocates and the public to refrain from making unsubstantiated and malicious allegations/complaints against judicial officers.

"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," he said.

He told the new SANs that the rank is a privilege, which can be withdrawn if abused.

Also speaking, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) said Nigeria currently faces serious political and constitutional challenges from different sectors.

"In view of its role as the ultimate arbiter of disputes in our polity there is no doubt that this Court will be increasingly required, in the coming year, to interpret and adjudicate on various matters affecting the sustenance of our national values and the sanctity of our political system," he said.

In his response on behalf of the new SANs, Elder C.A.N. Nwokeukwu (SAN) promised that the new silks will live up to the expectation of Nigerians.

The ceremony was attended by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, whose younger brother, Akinlolu Osinbajo, was among the 29 lawyers conferred with the prestigious rank.

Other dignitaries at the event were former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme; state governors, members of the National Assembly, and serving and retired judges.

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