Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has reiterated his call to government to set up special courts to prosecute smugglers, currency traffickers and other criminals.
Ali made the clamour at the 17th Special Town Hall Meeting held in Abuja this week.
The Customs head lamented that the regular courts were making it impossible to prosecute smugglers and other criminals along the country’s borders.
He asked government to consider the request which was tabled four years ago, saying that the prosecution of these criminals would serve as deterrent to others in line with government anti-corruption crusade.
However, the representative of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abiodun Ayodeji, differed with Ali’s position.
Ayodeji, who is the SA on Financial Crimes to the AGF, Abubakar Malami, said he objected because courts were creation of the Constitution, while setting up special courts entail lots of implications.
But the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, insisted that there was no need for constitutional amendment to create special courts.
Owasanoye submitted that the National Assembly had the power to create new courts without amending the constitution.
He also noted that constitutional amendment in the country was a nightmare and may never see the light of the day.
“The Special Court Bill has been with the National Assembly and I urge them to take forward that Bill. Things that are affecting us- kidnaping, terrorism, human trafficking, torture and corruption-require special courts. Other courts have dealt with special courts, Nigeria should also do it,” Owasanoye said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had described the war against corruption as a war of survival for Nigeria.
Mohammed said the success of the other key programmes of the government is closely intertwined with how the nation is able to fight corruption to a standstill.
“For as long as the nation fails to check corruption, reversal of infrastructure decay and revamping of the economy will remain a mirage,” he said.