Corruption and Underdevelopment

Buhari, Bawa berate judiciary on anti-corruption war

President of the federation, Muhammadu Buhari, and Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, have said the loss of cases in the courts on technical grounds cast a slur on the integrity of the judiciary and questions its commitment to the fight against graft.

The duo spoke at a three-day capacity building workshop, themed, “Judicial Dynamism: A Key Factor in the Fight Against Economicand Financial Crimes.”

The event, which was organised for judicial officers, corruption investigators, and prosecutors, had Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, and other top government officials in attendance.

Buhari, Bawa berate judiciary on anti-corruption war
Buhari, Bawa berate judiciary on anti-corruption war

Buhari, represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said cases lost on technical grounds questioned the commitment of the judiciary in the fight against corruption.

“Every corruption case lost on technical ground raises questions about judicial commitment to the fight against corruption. Perpetrators of corruption, economic, and financial crimes should not be allowed to escape the justice they deserve on grounds of technicalities and conservatism.

“The judiciary should not see itself or act as mere spectators or bystanders whilst criminals exploit mere technicalities to escape with our commonwealth, get bolder, and embolden others to continue in the unwholesome act of corruption,” he said.

Buhari, therefore, charged judicial officers to, “consciously aim to plug loopholes being exploited in our laws by critical elements in our midst.”

Earlier in his opening remark, Bawa expressed concerns about corruption cases lost to technicalities at various levels of court in the country, stressing that such development may serve as a disincentive to the fight against economic and financial crimes.

He said corruption cases lost on technical grounds had a way of boosting the confidence of corrupt elements and negatively affected the cherished image of the judiciary.

Bawa said, “As a commission, we do not expect every judicial decision to go our way, but there are instances the EFCC and many Nigerians have been left at a loss about certain judicial decisions, where defendants who obviously have stolen our commonwealth and those who have aided and abetted them have been allowed to go home to enjoy their proceeds of crime on technical grounds.

“This has the tendency of affecting negatively the cherished image of and confidence in the Nigerian judiciary both locally and internationally.

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“In the commission, we hold the view that corruption is a plague that does not select its victims. Those stealing and abusing our common patrimony do not wish us well.

“Judges are as much victims of corruption as the ordinary man on the streets. It is therefore in our collective interest that the gains of the fight against corruption are not reversed. This is also why we must aggregate fresh opinions and forge deliberate winning tactics and strategies to stem its ugly tide.

Reviewing the impact of the EFCC in the fight against economic and financial crimes, in its 19 years of existence, the EFCC boss stressed that the commission had carved a niche for itself with numerous milestones to its name.

“However, in the little over a year that I have had the privilege to superintend, the commission secured an unprecedented record of 2,220 convictions. It is the highest ever in the history of the commission and as I address you this morning, we have already secured 1,222 convictions, thus far, this year,” he said.

While commending the judiciary for its role in making the conviction record possible, the EFCC Chairman advocated for an enhanced welfare package for Judges and Justices. He also harped on collaboration between the legislative arm of government and the judiciary in drafting and enacting laws.

Meanwhile, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in his goodwill message, commended the EFCC and the National Judicial Institute for collaborating over the years in building capacity for judicial officers, stressing that technological advancement and globalization made it imperative for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to be up to date with emerging trends.

“We are aware that technological advancements and globalization have brought about an increase in digital activities and transactions. Economic and financial crimes have moved to the digital world and cybercrime has become the focal domain of criminals.

Buhari, Bawa berate judiciary on anti-corruption war
Buhari, Bawa berate judiciary on anti-corruption war

“There is a need, therefore, to bring our judiciary and the law enforcement agencies up to date with emerging digital trends,” he added.

Also, at the event, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, assured that the workshop would identify factors that served as impediments to the effectiveness of the EFCC and the judiciary as veritable tools for the prevention and successful prosecution of financial crime cases in Nigeria.

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