Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday urged the Federal Government to establish a special court for looters and to effectively deal with the scale of corruption allegations especially regarding the $2.1billion arms purchase scandal.
Falana gave the advice in a paper he delivered at the Faculty of Law, Osun State University, Ifetedo, Osun State. Below is an excerpt:
“The Federal Government deserves commendation for the renewed fight against corruption and impunity in the country. Regrettably, the anti-corruption battle cannot be won through the regular courts. Under the pretext that the regular courts are congested, corruption cases are being adjourned to the delight of politically-exposed persons. The ICPC has over 400 corruption cases in the courts. It is not in doubt that the EFCC has many more cases which are pending in the regular courts. Some of the cases being prosecuted by the ICPC were filed in the courts as far back as 1999!”
“It has just been disclosed by the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed that 55 ex-public officers standing trial for allegedly stealing N1.34 trillion have had their cases subjected to interminable delays. Owing to congestion of cases in the regular courts, corruption cases are being adjourned to upwards of three months instead of hearing them day by day as stipulated by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. As if that is not enough, the suspects are being granted bail in self-recognizance and other liberal terms notwithstanding the gravity of the offences alleged against them. Experience has shown that once granted bail in corruption cases, suspects adopt all manners of dilatory tactics to frustrate trial.
“With the ongoing investigations into serious allegations of massive corruption in the office of the NSA, NNPC, NIMASA, NPA etc it is clear that the regular courts cannot cope with the trial of the many suspects that are likely to be indicted and recommended for prosecution. It is high time the executive sponsored a bill for the establishment of an anti-corruption court. Otherwise, a decade from now, the corruption cases which were commenced 17 years ago, will remain in the docket! The proposed court will specifically handle cases of corruption, terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, advance fee fraud and other economic crimes. The proposed courts should be manned by judges of proven integrity.”