- Says perpetrators of graft will be apprehended
Paul Obi in Abuja
Amid the various cases of alleged corruption against government officials, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, wednesday insisted that the fight against corruption remain a cardinal focus of the federal government.
Osinbajo stated this wednesday while declaring open a two-day capacity workshop organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in collaboration with National Judicial Institute (NJI), for justices, judges, prosecutors and other stakeholders in Abuja.
He reaffirmed the determination of the government to apprehend and deter perpetrators of corruption in order to achieve sustainable development in the country.
“Corruption fight is a cardinal focus of this present administration and government is poised to tame the monster that is ravaging our economy and causing untold hardship to its citizens,” he vowed.
The workshop, with the theme: ‘Emerging Trends in Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Financial Crimes,’ was designed to help in building a team-based, non-adversarial collaborative justice system that is beneficial to all stakeholders.
Osinbajo maintained that corruption as a cancer which may be terminal if not checked, will continue to have adverse implications on education, healthcare, social services, infrastructure and indeed quality of life of citizens.
He said: “As part of anti-corruption strategy, we are also re-equipping our prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial reforms is to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.
“We must come together as patriotic citizens to rescue our nation from the shackles of corruption.”
Also, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, in his keynote address, described the theme of the workshop as “apt and in line with the current realities in modes of investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in Nigeria.”
Onnoghen, who is also the Chairman, Board of Governors, NJI, identified the role of the judiciary and the EFCC as vital and crucial in the fight against corruption.
“The judiciary is an important stakeholder which has a crucial role to play in ensuring that, sustainable solutions to the mounting legal challenges to the success of the fight against corruption are sustained.
“This workshop will bring to the fore the challenges faced by the commission as well as pontificate on solutions, and expose stakeholders to global best practices in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes,” Onnoghen stated.
The CJN expressed optimism that the war against corruption can be won in Nigeria, adding: “With the coming into effect of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, and the recent designation of special courts to handle corruption cases, we are assured of enduring success in the fight against corruption He further warned against over-sensational reporting of corruption cases by the media which he said is often pre-judicial or impugn the integrity of the judges involved in such cases.
The NJI Administrator, Justice Roseline Bozimo, commended the initiative of the organisers of the workshop which according to her “could not have come at a better time than now.”
According to her, the workshop was organised “in fulfillment of the mandate of the institute as outlined under Section 3 (1) of the National Judicial Institute Act, Cap N55 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”; which provides as follows:
“The institute shall serve as the principal focal point of judicial activities relating to the promotion of efficiency, uniformity and improvement in the quality of judicial services in the superior and inferior courts.”
While calling on justices and Judges to ensure proper adjudication and resolution of lingering cases pertaining to seizure, forfeiture of assets and money laundering Bozimo said: “I must not fail to emphasise that in order to sustain public confidence in the judiciary, judges must be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand in the way of substantive justice.
“The judiciary is saddled with the responsibility of upholding the rule of law by interpreting, construing and applying the relevant laws. I therefore encourage you to interpret the law without bias, affection and ill-will.”
Speaking, EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, appreciated the support of the presidency, the National Assembly and the judiciary in simplifying the task of hosting the programme.
The EFCC boss said: “There is no doubt that corruption is a cankerworm bedeviling the socio-economic life of our country and called for a common consensus in tackling it.”