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Buhari: Corruption cases being scuttled

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the prosecution of corruption cases is not going well.   He said in spite of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act…

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the prosecution of corruption cases is not going well.  
He said in spite of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 the courts allowed some lawyers to frustrate the reforms.
President Buhari made the remark in Abuja yesterday at the opening of the international workshop on the Role of the Judiciary in the Fight against Corruption.
The president demanded   a change of attitude to the fight against corruption for desired effects.
He said eradicating corruption was a collective task   that should involve the judges, members of the legal profession, all branches of government, the media and the civil society.
He charged the judiciary   to keep its house in order to serve the public well.
“Thus, we cannot expect to make any gains in the war against corruption in our society when the judiciary is seen as being distant from the crusade. This will not augur well and its negative effect will impact all sectors of society,” he said.
The president also stated that a well-functioning criminal justice system was imperative to address corruption effectively as his government sought to move Nigeria towards greater growth and development. 
President Buhari also warned that in carrying out its role in the fight against corruption, the judiciary must remain impartial and   be seen to be so.   
“The judiciary must take steps to ensure that it is not seen as being partisan. As such, it must be aware of the sensitivities of the public and take steps towards avoiding even the shred of a doubt as regards its independence.
“In justice, integrity is a necessity. Hence, judicial officers and all other members of this sector must always demonstrate manifest integrity,” he said, adding “we expect to see less tolerance to delay tactics used by defence lawyers or even the prosecution in taking cases to conclusion.”
He said he was 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. When cases are not concluded the negative impression is given that crime pays.”
He said that the future of anti-graft efforts in Nigeria rest  not only on well-functioning, preventive systems, but also an effective sanctions and enforcement regime in accordance with the laws.
Buhari said his administration was counting on the judiciary to assist in this regard, reiterating his commitment to promoting and supporting the institution to achieve a well-staffed and well-resourced judicial system.
“The judiciary can count on me for this so that together we can rid our nation of the cancer of corruption,” the president said.  
President Buhari also stated that “A corruption-free Nigeria is possible. Therefore, let every arm of government be the change we want to see in our country.”
Corruption won’t be tolerated –CJN

By Adelanwa Bamgboye

In his speech Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, assured the nation that corruption would not be tolerated and that due punishment would be meted out to corrupt individuals.
He commended the ongoing efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under by Mr. Ibrahim Magu.  
He said that corruption in Nigeria, as in other climes, is a complex phenomenon that could not be solved in isolation.
The CJN noted that corruption suppressed economic growth and undermined the sustainable management of the commonwealth.
“It also results in flagrant breaches of the fundamental human rights of citizens, undermines our collective security; aggravates poverty, while threatening the legitimacy of constitutional governance and
“Perhaps above these, corruption blunts the sword of justice and engenders contempt for the rule of law, a fundamental principle of any civilized society.  It is therefore important for us to be holistic in our submissions and pragmatic in our solutions,” he said.
Tackling corruption, according to him, is not easy, pointing out since the causes are complex, it has no single magical solution. 
He said that the issue of undue delay by technicality, which hitherto plagued the criminal justice system, has also been addressed by the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. 
Presidency should provide evidence   – OCJ Okocha
By Adelanwa Bamgboye, John Chuks Azu & Clement A. Oloyede

The immediate past Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, OCJ, Okocha (SAN) has said the president must be specific on the particulars of lawyers who are frustrating reforms   introduced by the ACJA.
He said while he did not know the basis upon which the President’s statement was made, it would have been preferable if particulars of such lawyers were given.   He said when the particulars of such lawyers were given, people could now make informed decisions.  
“It is not every lawyer that is involved in criminal trial, and we have over one hundred thousand lawyers in this country. So is it the lawyers that are prosecuting or those defending in criminal trials that are frustrating the reforms introduced by the ACJA?”
Another senior Lawyer, Abeny Mohammed (SAN) agreed that   lawyers were using frivolous applications to frustrate cases but he added    that the courts could ignore them. According to him, we can only shift the blames to those lawyers, who are using it to frustrate the cases.
“However, under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, not every application can be heard in the interim. The court can refuse to hear the application and proceed with the case and tell the counsel that the application can be heard later.
“It is a matter of the court exercising their discretion judicially and judiciously. The lawyers should be blamed more than the courts,” he said.   
Lawyers selfish – Jacobs

Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) observed that what the presidency said is visible for all to see. “Despite the fact that there is provision for Section 306 saying that there should be no stay, you see lawyers filing applications for stay upon stay.”
He added that even after such applications were refused by the court, such lawyers would  file another one. “This shows our lack of readiness for the system to work. People are still filing frivolous objections that the ACJ prohibited. People are asking for adjournment indiscriminately.” He said that despite the ACJA providing for five adjournments once the trial commences, lawyers still went to courts to seek for adjournments more than what the Act provided.
He said lawyers needed attitudinal change. “Our attitudes need to change if the society must change. We cannot continue to do things in our own ways and expect things to change. It’s not the law that can reform a nation but we must also reform our attitude.”
Jacobs added that the selfishness of some lawyers was not making them   look at the interest of the larger society. He suggested that lawyers and judges needed  more training to understand the right thing to be done. 
Reacting, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) cautioned lawyers against engaging in acts capable of frustrating government’s on-going efforts to curb corruption and impunity.
He advised lawyers not to compromise the professional ethics or  aid criminality for personal gains, but must ensure the protection of societal interest at all time.
Sagay, urged lawyers to desist from professional misconduct, noting that where lawyers deliberately work to aid his client escape punishment is unethical.
“The obligation of a lawyer to accept briefs does not extend to the protection of their clients from the consequences of crimes against the society.
“A lawyer who looks at his client and believe that client is guilty of a crime, should advise that client to plead guilty otherwise he should drop the case. He does not have a choice.
“He should not knowingly, or being aware that a client is guilty of an offence, set out to provide the defence of not guilty with the intention of seeing him set free from the consequences of his crime.
“It is therefore unethical to set out to frustrate legal proceedings by exploiting the rules of procedure and regulation. It is unethical to make frivolous application with the hope of delaying the proceedings in a case.
“Defence counsel, should avoid ending up as a partner in the crime by sharing guilt and proceeds of that crime.
“A lawyer’s role should not degenerate from that of a legitimate defence counsel to becoming an accomplice after the fact.
“A lawyer who is over-enthusiastic in the defence of his client and crossing the line from being a lawyer to being to becoming a co-defendant will be prosecuted as such” Sagay said

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