President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, decried the slow pace in the trial of corruption cases initiated by his administration, which were pending before the nation’s courts.
Buhari, who was speaking in Abuja, at the opening ceremony of a workshop organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, the National Judicial Institute, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat, accused some judges of allowing lawyers to frustrate speedy determination of the corruption cases pending before them.
He said despite the application of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 (ACJA), which encouraged speedy trial of cases, “corruption cases filed by government are not progressing as speedily as they should.
“This certainly needs to change if we are to make success in our collective effort in the fight against corruption in the country,” he said and further explained that he had made the fight against corruption one of the top priorities of his administration to restore the economy and build a new Nigeria.
He said, in a bid to repositioning Nigeria’s economy, it was obligatory to swiftly tackle two ills; waste and corruption.
Decrying the delay in the prosecution of corruption cases, Buhari said, “I am worried that the expectation of the public is yet to be met by the judiciary with regard to the removal of delay and the toleration of delay tactics by lawyers.
He called on judicial officers to manifest integrity in the conduct of their official duties and tasked the judiciary to ensure that trial of criminal cases in the country were not delayed by unnecessary technicalities.
The president noted that with a virile, incorruptible and independent judiciary, “We will rid the country of corruption.
“A corrupt-free Nigeria is possible and I urge every arm of government to be the change agent in the fight against corruption in the country,” President Buhari added.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has said judges will no longer throw away corruption-related cases for want of diligent prosecution by the Federal Government.
Justice Mohammed said the coming on board of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 had removed the issues of technicalities that had often stalled the trial of such high profile graft cases.
The CJN, however, urged all parties to proceedings to avail themselves of the innovations introduced by the Act, in order to ensure that delay became obsolete in courts.
Justice Mohammed, who identified corruption as a threat to the legitimacy of constitutional governance and democracy, however, observed that there was no single magical solution to tackling the problem and added that, “we must do our part and act now. Our actions must be concrete, ethical and time-bound to ensure an efficient and effective justice system.”
“I dare say that corruption cannot be easily tackled without transparent, efficient and speedy delivery of justice. Indeed, this is fundamental to our economic growth, development and national well-being. Hence, the growth of our democracy is underpinned by the satisfactory resolution of our individual and collective differences through a proficient and virile justice system.”
The CJN noted that the workshop indicated the judiciary’s clear support for President Buhari’s historic efforts to rid Nigeria of the menace of corruption and its related offences and that the aim of the workshop was to stimulate necessary discourse on all pressing issues pertaining to the role that the judiciary played in curbing corruption in Nigeria, while drawing upon experiences and established best practices from other jurisdictions.
The workshop was attended by the Chief Justice of Ghana,Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and also John Z.Vertes, the immediate past President of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA),