The Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Dr. Musa Abubakar has lent his voice to the call for the establishment of special courts for corruption cases.
Dr. Abubakar, in his lecture titled ‘Corruption, Economic and Financial Crimes: Special Courts to the Rescue’, delivered at the 5th Criminal Justice Reform Conference organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Asaba, Delta State, said that the creation of special courts for corruption cases would remove bottlenecks associated with the adjudication of corruption matters in the conventional courts.
He said, “Establishing a special Court to adjudicate over corruption and other financial crimes is one thing we have longed for since the establishment of our Commission.
‘The proposal will no doubt put flesh to the provision of Section 61 (3) of the ICPC Act 2000, which requires that Chief Judges of states should designate a court specifically to deal with corruption cases and other related matters.
‘The clamour for the establishment of such special courts is borne out of the desire to ensure expeditious disposal of such corruption and financial crime cases. Instances abound where cases pending in our conventional courts are stagnated and unduly delayed.”
He further argued that the creation of special courts would free-up judges from other responsibilities in view of the fact that most judges are overloaded with different cases.
According to him, “A recent research by the Commission1 (ICPC) into the reasons for delays in the disposal of corruption cases found that assigning too many cases to one judge was one of the major causes of delays. It further revealed that 83% of the respondents endorsed the creation of specialized courts to handle only corruption cases as that would expedite and fast-track the prosecution of such cases and in turn lead to more convictions.”
Dr. Abubakar however warned that the creation of special courts without full implementation of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 would not bring the desire turn around in criminal justice system.
He cited willful delay of court processes especially by defence lawyers in corruption cases to frustrate prosecutions in complete violation of Section 396 (3) of the ACJA Act.
“In as much as the ICPC subscribes to the establishment of special courts, I make bold to say that there would hardly be any difference if the defence lawyers maintain their usual tactics of frustrating the smooth administration of justice.”, he warned.
He therefore called on both the bench and bar to contribute their quota in the fight against corruption by eliminating all forms of delay in the trial of corruption cases.
“I therefore urge that as Ministers in the temple of justice, you champion this fight and be the vanguard of anti-corruption in Nigeria. You must avoid glorifying corruption but insist on ensuring that justice is done. We should strive to leave a good and lasting legacy for the coming generation.
‘This will require attitudinal change by strictly adhering to the relevant provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, notably Rules 14, 30 and 37, most especially Rule 30 which provides that a legal practitioner shall not conduct himself in any manner that may obstruct, delay or adversely affect the administration of justice.”, he added.