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Falana: Executive sent special corruption court bill to n’ assembly but it wasn’t passed

Falana: Executive sent special corruption court bill to n’ assembly but it wasn’t passed
September 21
16:45 2017

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the executive submitted a bill for the creation of special courts to try corruption cases to the national assembly a year ago, but that it was not passed.

Falana made this statement on the backdrop of the chief justice of Nigeria’s directive to all heads of courts to create special courts to handle corruption cases.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the human rights lawyer said the refusal of federal legislators to pass the bill caused corruption cases to be delayed in courts which were already congested with other cases.

“As part of anti-corruption policy of the Mohammadu Buhari administration an executive bill for the establishment of a special court clothed with exclusive jurisdiction to try corruption cases was submitted to the national assembly. Although it was submitted over a year ago the federal legislators have not deemed it fit to pass the crucial bill into law for reasons best known to them. Hence corruption cases have been subjected to inordinate delays in our courts which are congested with many other cases,” he said.

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While commending the chief justice for his action, Falana described his intervention as decisive. He said the directive would go a long way towards speeding up trial of corruption cases.

“However, the chief justice of Nigeria, the Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen has intervened in a decisive manner by issuing a directive to all heads of courts in Nigeria to create special courts for the exclusive trial of corruption cases. The chief justice deserves commendation for the radical initiative.  No doubt, the timely intervention of the chief justice will go a long way to speed up the trial of corruption cases in all our courts,” he said.

“To make a success of the directive the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the chief judges of the states and the federal capital territory should be directed by the chief justice of Nigeria to issue practice directions to accelerate the determination of corruption cases. In addition, the supreme court (criminal appeals) practice directions 2013; court of appeal (criminal appeals) practice directions 2013 and court of appeal (fast track) practice directions 2014 as well as the federal high court practice directions 2013 issued by the heads of the respective courts should be put to use as they are designed to give priority to the trial and appeals arising from cases of corruption, money laundering, terrorism, rape and kidnapping and human trafficking.

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“To obviate undue delay in the determination of corruption cases the practice directions have made special provision for the service of processes on parties by electronic mail addresses, facsimile number and GSM Telephone number or any other available mode of communication.”

Falana advised trial courts to stop delay tactics, such as cross-examining a witness for weeks, employed by some defence counsel to frustrate a case.

“Even though the supreme court has upheld the constitutional validity of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act with respect to the abolition of stay of proceedings in criminal trials in all federal courts some defence counsel have devised new dilatory tactics including the practice of subjecting each prosecution witness to cross examination lasting for 20 days or more  by  asking irrelevant questions and sending junior lawyers to court to ask for adjournment to allow senior counsel in chambers to personally handle the cross examination of prosecution witnesses,” he said.

“Trial courts should stop such delay tactics which are programmed to defeat the letter and spirit of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. Finally, defence counsel who conspire with their clients to frustrate the prosecution of corruption cases should be made to pay punitive costs while not more than three lawyers should appear in court for any of the parties in corruption cases.”

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1 Comment

  1. James
    James December 28, 23:01

    How can national assembly pass the bill, when already they know for sure that, the bill will work against them. The would be able to allow such bill work

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