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Nigeria to set up special courts to handle corruption cases

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-CJN wants the judicial process involved in corruption cases fast tracked.

-He promised special courts and special days to hear cases on corruption and financial crimes.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen has called for the creation of special courts that will hear cases on corruption thereby hastening the judicial process involved in bringing culprits to book.

Justice Onnoghen at a special session of the Supreme Court where he administered oath on 29 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) on Monday, ordered heads of the divisions of courts to create special courts for corruption and financial crimes cases.

Onnoghen said the directive is necessary to end the unnecessary delay associated with the prosecution of corruption cases.

The Chief Justice also ordered that all lists of pending corruption cases in the various courts be forwarded to the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The CJN disclosed that an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee will be constituted at the next council meeting to help the NJC monitor and effectively enforce the foregoing policy.

“Heads of Courts have been directed to designate in their various jurisdictions, one or more Courts, depending on the volume of such cases, as special courts solely for the purpose of hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crime cases.

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“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 said.

He added: “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.

“We in the Supreme Court, having reduced the pre-election appeals in the course of the Third Term of the last Legal year, will devote much of this First Term in dealing, by way of task work, with the identified eighteen (18) EFCC, ICPC, and Economic Crime cases alongside the normal Civil, Criminal, and Political cases.

“We must not lose sight of the indispensable role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption.

“Corruption continues to place the judiciary in the eye of the storm, but, we cannot allow that to deter us or weaken our resolve.

“It is regrettable that the image of the judiciary has been tarnished by the notion that the Nigerian judiciary is bedeviled by corrupt elements, hence the need for an image building parade.

“We must accept that acts of misconduct of a few rub off on the rest of the judiciary and create the impression that all judicial officers have their hands soiled with the proceeds of corruption.

“Let me be clear here; it is not going to be business as usual for the few unscrupulous elements in our midst.

“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.

“We, in the judiciary are fully aware and in fact worried by concerns expressed by members of the public on the very slow speed with which corruption cases in particular are being heard or determined by our courts.”

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