CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen

Alex Enumah in Abuja

A total of 1,124 corruption cases have been forward to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for speedy trial in the proposed special corruption courts across the country.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja at the formal inauguration of the Corruption and Other Financial Crimes Cases Trials Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO).

The committee which is headed by a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd), apart from monitoring the proceedings of high profile corruption cases at the various courts, is also expected to propose practice directions that would help uproot all encumbrances to the speedy trial of corruption cases in the courts.

Following the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari on corruption in the country, a lot of alleged looters of the country’s resources have been arrested and currently undergoing trials in various courts across the country.
However, two years down the line, little or nothing has been achieved in the prosecution of these cases in courts, prompting a larger number of the public to allude that the judiciary is corrupt.

“As I stated recently, the society we serve appears dissatisfied with our performance, and we must neither dismiss nor relegate these rising criticisms as mere sentiments or unfounded accusations devoid of substance.
“We must rise and protect the dignity and integrity of our judicial system,” he said.

The CJN stated that consequent upon this, the NJC decided to initiate far-reaching measures that would eradicate delays in the trials of corruption and other economic crime cases in the courts.

According to him, “We did announced that Heads of Courts were directed to compile and submit a compendium of all corruption cases being handled by their various divisions and I also directed them to designate a court or more in their jurisdictions, depending on the volume of such cases, solely for the trial of such cases.

“So far, we have received a total of 1,124 such cases reported to us from various jurisdictions across the country.”

He commended the chairman and other members of the committee for who, in spite of their numerous other engagements, accepted to serve their fatherland through this assignment.

The CJN said their membership of the committee is purely on merit and in recognition of their track records of service to their fatherland as well as their contributions to the development of the nation’s law and jurisprudence.

While stressing the importance of the assignment to the judiciary and the country at large, Onnoghen urged them to come up with strategies that will help eliminate delays and its attendant effects on the speedy disposal of corruption cases.

He, however, admonished both prosecution and defence counsel to “shun all unethical antics being deployed that may result in the delays usually experienced in the hearing and determination of corruption cases.”

While responding, Chairman of the committee, Justice Galadima, thanked the CJN and the NJC for the confidence reposed in them.

He assured them that given the necessary tools and encouragement, he and his colleagues would deliver on the said task.

The committee is made up of eminent stakeholders drawn from the Bench, Bar and civil society groups.