Special courts for looters on the way- CJN

Ebun Francis || The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen on Monday assured Nigerians that the judiciary under his watch is determined to end corruption in the system.

The CJN who asked litigants and the public to desist from bribing judges noted that the corrupt acts of a few in the judiciary, negatively impacted on its image, warned that any judge found wanting “would be dealt with decisively”.

Onnoghen made the comments in Abuja at the event marking the commencement of the Supreme Court’s 2017/2018 new legal year and the swearing-in of 29 lawyers, who were conferred with the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

He said, “Let me be clear here; it is not going to be business as usual for the few unscrupulous elements in our midst. I am determined to redeem the unfairly battered image of the judiciary. Any judicial officer found wanting would be dealt with decisively, and shown the way out swiftly.

“I encourage members of the public to cut off the supply side of corruption by stopping the offering of bribes to judicial officers. The full weight of the law will be visited on all those who are caught in this nefarious activity that is capable of eroding integrity and confidence in the judiciary.

To put in place a process for the take-off of the special courts, the CJN directed heads of courts 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.

“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,” Onnoghen 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 handling corruption and financial crime cases key into and abide by our renewed efforts at ridding our country of the cankerworm.

“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.

“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 18 EFCC, ICPC, and economic crime cases alongside the normal civil, criminal and political cases,” the CJN said.