CJN tasks heads of court on corruption, financial crime cases

CJN tasks heads of court on corruption, financial crime cases

Monday, September 18, 2017 9:37 pm

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a group photogragh with Supreme Court justices the special court session to mark the commencement of 2017/2018 legal year on Monday in Abuja.

All Heads of Courts have been directed to compile and forward to the National Judicial Council (NJC), comprehensive lists of corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen gave the directive in his address at the special court session to mark the 2017/2018 legal year on Monday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the occasion also witnessed the swearing-in of 29 newly conferred senior advocates of Nigeria.

The CJN said the heads of courts were directed to designate some courts solely for  hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crime cases.

“Of course, we are also aware that the Judiciary cannot win this war alone, hence the need for collaboration and interface with stakeholders in this noble cause.

“We are under no illusion that the fight against corruption would be an easy one, as we are already aware that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.

“ But we are determined to win it. We require all hands to be on deck to fight this monster,’’ he said.

Onnoghen further said: “where such cases come on appeal, to either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, special dates on each week, shall be fixed solely for hearing and determining such appeals’’.

He also said: “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 abide by our renewed efforts at ridding our country of the canker worm’’, the CJN said.

In the course of the 2016/2017 legal year, the CJN said the Supreme Court considered a total  of 1,362 matters comprising motions, appeals and judgments.

“Under motions, we heard 82 political, 675 civil and 208 criminal motions, totaling 965.

“The Court also considered a total number of 394 appeals comprising 96 political, 174 civil, and 124 criminal. In total, 243 Judgments were delivered in the 2016/2017 legal year.

“ This is by all means an impressive report considering the persistent and increasing volume of cases that continue to come before this Court.

“ I attribute this impressive performance to the hard work of judicial officers, support staff and the reforms we are implementing to improve justice delivery.

“I share the view that the Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria are the most hard working Supreme Court Justices in the world’’.

On the conferment of title of senior advocates on some senior lawyers, the CJN advised the beneficiaries to use the position to the growth of the country’s jurisprudence.

“The rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is the pinnacle of legal practice and the highest honour conferred by this noble profession.

“It is a rare privilege bestowed on eminently deserving members of the Bar who have distinguished themselves in the knowledge, practice of and contribution to the law, having passed through rigorous processes.

“ I am aware of the meticulous screening and scrutiny which lawyers are subjected to in line with the minimum standards of competence provided by the guidelines.

“ It is therefore a commendable feat achieved by the newly appointed Senior Advocates. This privilege must therefore be guarded jealously,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court,  Hadizatu Mustapha on July 5 released the list of the successful promoted to the rank of senior advocates.

They included Prof. Adedeji Adekunle, the Attorney-General of Kwara state, Kamardeen Ajibade, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Prof. Adebambo Adepoju and Human Right lawyer, Festus Keyamo

Others are Chubuike Nwokeukewu, Johnnie Egwuonwu, Bert Igwilo, Sylvester Elema, Ikenna Egbuna, Wilcox Abereton, Micheal Alliyu, Akinlolu Oluyinka Osibanjo and Francis Egele.

Prof. Enefiok Essien, Prof. Sadiq Shikyl, Nasser Dangiri, Emeka Okpoko, Sanii Garun-Gabbas, Abdul Ibrahim and John Odubela also benefited.

The rest are Gboyega Oyewole, Joshua Musa, Ibrahim Mohammed, Ekemejero Ohwovoriole, Oyetola Oshobi, Sulaiman Usman, Kehinde Olamide Ogunwumiju as well as Chisonu Okpoko.

NAN however reports that Mrs Oluwatoyin Bashorun, who was initially listed to be conferred with the prestigious rank, was later withdrawn from the list following a pending fraud allegations brought against her.

The Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), commended the CJN for setting plans in motion to commence a vigorous process of reforms aimed at re-positioning the Judiciary.

“I must also commend Your Lordship’s Circular on Practice Direction of May 28, 2017 on the compulsory enforcement of Arbitration provisions in contracts by our courts.

“ This would promote faster commercial dispute resolutions and foster greater confidence in our judicial system by domestic and foreign investors.

“This directive will no doubt help to stimulate commercial transaction in Nigeria and thereby support the vision of the present administration to promote economic development and growth.

“Directives on designation of special courts solely for the purpose of hearing and speedy determining of corruption cases is highly commendable,’’ the minister said.

Malami, who is also the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) said the commencement of a new legal year, offered an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of the past year.

“It also helps us to review the strategies we employed to confront them, celebrate our successes, appreciate our limitations and then project into the future with a view to improving on the present indicators,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the occasion was attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, stakeholders and family members of the new senior advocates, politicians, friends and well-wishers. (NAN)

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