The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, has said that no fewer than five hundred financial crimes are waiting before various courts in the Lagos State High Court.
Justice Oke said this, on Thursday, during the inauguration of four special courts dedicated for the adjudication of corruption and sexual harassment cases, at Ikeja, Lagos.
While speaking, she expressed concerns for the rate at which corruption cases filed under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had progressed
The Chief Judge said the new special courts will aid in the speedy trial of most of these corruption cases as many had already been transferred to the courts, adding that the decision to have special court for corruption cases was in compliance with the directive of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for all heads of courts in the country to create special courts for the speedy trial of corruption cases.
She said, “We, in Lagos State and the Lagos State Judiciary, in particular, have taken the bull by the horns and implemented the Honourable CJN’s directive by designating four courts as Special Offences Courts to hear corruption and financial crime cases.
“We believe strongly that the special courts shall fast-track the trial of these types of cases and encourage the EFCC and other relevant bodies like the ICPC to expedite the investigation and prosecution of such cases.
“Presently, there are over 500 cases of financial crime pending before the high court, the bulk of which have now been assigned to the Special Offences Courts.”
“In the speech marking the second anniversary of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration, His Excellency, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo announced plans by the Federal Government to designate specific courts to handle corruption cases.
“He said that the courts would be part of a general judicial reform to make the judiciary more efficient and to facilitate the determination of corruption and financial crime cases.
“Soon thereafter, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen during the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria to 29 senior lawyers in Abuja in September 2017, announced major reforms in the criminal justice system.
“He said to effectively monitor and enforce the new policy, an Anti-corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee will be set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria stated that the Committee would among other responsibilities, ensure that both the trial and appellate courts handling corruption and financial cases key into and abide by the renewing effort of ridding our country of the cankerworm,”.
Also speaking at the event, the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, expressed readiness to collaborate with anti-graft agencies in the country.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Mrs. Idiat Adebule, also lauded the CJ for designating two courts to hearing sexual harassment matters.
“The state collaborates with such agencies charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences by providing an enabling environment in terms of responding to inquiries and providing information to anti-graft agencies.
“I am particularly glad about the designation of two courts to handle sexual related offences as it complements our fight against sexual abuse.
“These sexual offences courts will have trained and experienced prosecutors to interact with survivors, provide support and ensure timely prosecution of the cases,” he said.
Also present at the event were; the acting Chairman of Economic and Financial crimes commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachukwa, CJN, was represented by the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice M.I. Garba, wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, and the Lagos First Lady, Mrs. Dolapo Ambode.