… Seeks deployment of more judges to handle high profile cases
The Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) of the National Judicial Council (NJC) has disclosed that shabby investigations and poor prosecution were responsible for the little success in the fight against corruption in the country.
The committee recommended that more judges be deployed to handle designated corruption cases, just as it demanded new practice directions for the trial of corruption cases.
According to the committee, these measures would help to cure anomalies in the trial of corruption cases in Nigerian courts.
The committee, which is headed by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd), identified poor prosecution, absence of counsel for parties in court, and reliance on irrelevant documentary evidence as the major impediments to the successful prosecution of many corruption cases, amongst other factors.
The NJC had in November 2017 inaugurated the committee with the mandate to monitor and regularly evaluate the progress and activities of courts designated to try corruption and financial crimes cases.
The committee is also charged with the responsibility of advising on practice direction for the approval of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
In its report, the Suleiman Galadima-led committee remarked that the multiplicity of charges and the non-adherence to Court procedures on the part of the anti-corruption agencies were partly responsible for the little success recorded so far in the fight against corruption.
It also identified the retirement or transfer of judges and the eventual re-assignment of cases to start de-novo, amendment of charges after commencement of trial, and cumbersome record transmission process to Court of Appeal amongst others as factors militating against the speedy disposal of corruption cases.
The director of Information in the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, in a statement, disclosed that the report was submitted at the 86th meeting of the NJC. He explained that the committee distilled the issues from its findings from discussions with heads of courts and observations made from the surprise visits of the members to courts handling corruption and financial crime cases in some parts of the country.
According to Oye, the committee also observed that multiplicity of cases involving the same defendants, and on similar subject matters going on in different courts at the same time militated against the successful prosecution of many corruption cases.
“This makes it impossible for some trials to proceed, in spite of the fact that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, provides for day-to-day trials of criminal cases, a defendant who is undergoing trial in other courts is always unavailable for trial,” he stated.
The committee however recommended proper training for the prosecution officers in the area of investigation, especially in the area of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
It also identified the need for prosecuting agencies to develop competent prosecution departments manned by qualified personnel, just as it urged that there should be synergy between the various prosecution agencies to enhance proper prosecution of criminal cases.
The committee also advocated the use of professionals such as accountants and auditors in investigating high profile and complicated cases.
The report further indicated the need for proper funding for the Judiciary and prosecuting agencies, and the deployment of more Judges to handle designated corruption cases.
The committee however renewed its pledge to intensify efforts in the monitoring of corruption cases in the country.
“The committee will continue to monitor corruption and criminal cases all over the country and to meet with stakeholders on the way forward,” Oye stated.
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