The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, said he has received 1,124 corruption cases from heads of courts of the various jurisdictions across Nigeria.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Corruption and Other Financial Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) at the complex of the National Judicial Council, the chief justice, CJN, said the committee was formed “as part of the commitment of the Judiciary to lend support to the efforts of the present regime, to rid the nation of corruption.”
He promised that all aspects of judicial duties would be scrutinised, improved and re-aligned towards reform.
Mr. Onnoghen called for maximum support for the committee in the discharge of its mandate.
“All the institutions of the Judiciary and Heads of all the Courts have been advised to provide the Committee with all the necessary information and support to enable the Committee make decisions from informed perspective.”
The committee is expected to among other things propose Practice Direction, for consideration and approval of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, in order to compliment the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and serve as a guide as well as applicable rules in all courts designated for corruption cases.
The National Judicial Council had appointed a former President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami, to head the 15-member committee. But he later rejected the appointment based on personal grounds.
Accepting Mr. Salami’s decision, the CJN said he hoped that he would be available for other national judicial assignments in the future.
He explained that the choice of the members was purely on merit and recognition of their track records of service to their fatherland, as well as contributions to the development of the country’s law and jurisprudence.
He implored them to come up with strategies that will help eliminate the delays and its attendant effects on the speedy disposal of corruption cases.
The CJN advised prosecution and defence counsel to shun unethical antics employed to delay hearing and determination of corruption cases as heads of courts had been directed to report such counsel.
He added that such counsel would be referred to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (in the case of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria) or the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (in the case of other lawyers) for disciplinary measures.
Responding on behalf of the members, the Chairman of the Committee, Suleiman Galadima, expressed his appreciation to the chief justice for inviting them to serve the nation.
“Members would bring to bear their wealth of experiences to ensure the purpose for which the committee was set up,” he said.
He pledged that the committee would strictly adhere to the terms of reference.