The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, on Monday announced has assured of his readiness to establish special courts specifically for the purpose of trying corruption and financial crime cases.
Onnoghen stated this, while speaking at the opening of the 2017/2019 Legal Year, and the swearing-in of 29 members of the Nigerian Bar Association conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in Abuja.
“In order for the NJC to monitor and effectively enforce the foregoing policy, an anti-corruption cases trial monitoring committee will be constituted at the next council meeting.
“This committee would be saddled with, among other things, the responsibility of ensuring 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 cankerworm,” he stated.
According to the CJN, all heads of courts have been directed to compile and forward to the National Judicial Council (NJC), comprehensive lists of all corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.
He also reassured of his commitment to ridding the Judiciary of corruption and redeem it’s battered image.
“I am determined to redeem the unfairly battered image of the judiciary. Any judicial officer found wanting would be dealt with decisively, and shown the way out swiftly. It is, therefore, for this reason that the independence of the judiciary must be entrenched if we are to hold the trust and confidence of the citizens of Nigeria.”
Justice Onnoghen noted that during the 2016/2017 Legal Year, a total of 1,362 matters comprising motions, appeals and judgements were considered by the Supreme Court.
“We also had 82 political, 675 civil and 208 criminal motions, totalling 965, while the court also considered a total of 394 appeals comprising 96 political, 174 civil and 124 criminal. In total, 243 judgments were delivered in the year under review.”
Congratulating the newly appointed senior advocates, the CJN urged them to imbibe every virtue of excellence, integrity and diligence at all times.
In his speech, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), applauded the vigorous process of reforms aimed at re-positioning the judiciary to play its constitutional role in a more humane and efficient manner.
On his part, Chief T.J. Okpoko (SAN), who spoke on behalf of the Body of SANs, stated that the prosecution of many criminal cases in the country had continued to fail because of the apprehension of witnesses of the danger of appearing openly in court to testify.