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Date Published: 12/03/09



Corruption in Nigeria has remained in the front burner of various fora for a long time within and outside the country as the impairment to Nigeria’s development. It is a pandemic in the Nigeria society. The cankerworm has eaten so deep into the Nigeria fabric that except something drastic is done, the next generation would be messed up as infrastructures are fast decaying and national resources fast depleting on daily basis owing to our individual corruptive tendencies. It is against this backdrop that there is the need for concerted efforts along with adequate attention to effectively curb the menace of corruption from our society

At the moment, the only institutional component with the power to confer the status of finality on the trial process is the conventional court. Sadly enough these courts have turned out to be the clog in the wheel of speedy trial of corrupt cases.

With this at the back of our minds, I make bold to join in the clarion call by Mrs. Farida Waziri, Chairman, EFCC for the establishment of Special Courts to speedy up the trials of some former corrupt leaders charged to courts with embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering need not be delayed any longer as we presently experienced now. Yes, this fight, as Mrs. Waziri rightly posited, is a long drawn one, “but it is winnable”. We must all be prepared to fight it to the next level.

This is not to say that the Nigerian populace has lost hope in the conventional structures of the court system. But for emphasis, there is no denying the fact that every sane person will reason with me that high profile corrupt cases handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have been delayed for too long because of perpetual injunctions which have become permanent immunity to some people who are under investigation even when they have lost their constitutional immunity.

These unscrupulously accused persons have perfected the act of delaying justice by utilizing the technicalities of procedure of the conventional courts.

When cases are unduly delayed through the antics of the accused persons, it is justice denied to the public. When a corrupt case drags on and on, the constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time is undermined. The courts must try to follow the principles laid down in plethora of cases like: SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (NIG) LTD VS UDI (1996) 6 NWLR (pt 8 455)483 at pages 496-497 in giving this particular judgment it was upheld that:

Discretion must be exercise judicially and judiciously; it must be patiently clear from the record where the discretion is exercise one way or the other, and that the court should bear in mind the requirement that justice should be done to both parties, and that is also in the interest of justice, that the hearing of a case should not be unduly delayed. 

However, the judiciary’s role in the functioning of the state is the dispensation of justice. Justice within the law administration does not mean justice to the accused person only. Justice must also be done to the interest represented by the state when it prosecutes.

If we must make progress as a nation and hopefully attain the level of the top twenty economies of the world, there is an urgent need to follow the precedence of the developed economies of the world.

Special courts differ from general-jurisdiction courts in several other respects besides having a more limited jurisdiction. Cases are more likely to be disposed of without trial in Special Courts, and if there is a trial or hearing, it is usually heard more rapidly that in a court of general jurisdiction.

In the United States of America, most a times, Special Courts procedures are commenced without the benefit or expense of attorneys or even law-trained judges

By and large, it is based on the above premise that I hereby align with the EFCC Chairman Mrs.  Farida Waziri, and other well meaning Nigerians, that the creation of Special Court will indicate the willingness and determination of both the executive and the legislative arm of government to bring to an end this madness of perpetual injunctions to stall court proceedings.

While the difference between Special Courts and conventional courts are marked in terms of their subject matter, jurisdiction, composition and location, they, never the less, share common pahilosophical assumption to eradicate and sanitize the country. Notable Nigerians and even we the commoners are seriously agitating for Special Courts; for instance, the Vice Chancellor University of Jos, Prof Sonni Tyoden, has called for the establishment of Special Court in the country to try corrupt public officers.

He said this in a paper presented at the 2008 Gindiri Old Student Association, GOSA, convention. He stated emphatically that special court to try corrupt public office holders would guarantee quick disposal of cases and ultimately serve as a deterrent to corrupt officers. 

In aligning with that the chairman of the Supreme Council of Sharia, Lagos state chapter, Mr. Ishaq Adesina said: “the idea of creating special court to handle corrupt cases for quick dispensation of justice is laudable. This will give us the opportunity to ensure that justice is not only done but seen to have been done when those who are corrupt are quickly brought to book”.


Another notable Nigerian and a house hold name in the field of journalism and media in general who has also thrown his support on this issue of Special Court is Mr. Peter Enahoro. According to him, “corruption has been with us for ages therefore, Special Court is the solution, since it does not truncate due process and with the present leadership of Mrs. Waziri it is timely for Nigeria to have Special Court”.

Indeed, when enacting the EFCC Establishment Act, the legislature was alive to the need for speedy conclusion of corrupt cases. What then is stoping the national assembly from giving the EFCC the emergency powers of Special Court in prosecuting corruption cases?

Unless corruption cases are concluded speedily, the sting of deterrence is removed, for what really deter is not just investigation and prosecution, but the conviction and punishment, unfortunately experience shows that the provision for day to day hearing is more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

However, the slow pace in the determination of corruption cases has led to public frustration, if not apathy, with respect to anti corruption efforts. The question we should ask ourselves is whether the public is now setting standard for the lawmakers that are supposed to do their obligatory duty of making laws that will provide good governance.

The establishment of the Special Court has received varied assessment as to their need and effectiveness overtime. Critics argue that the establishment of such courts will create the burden of yet another malfunctioning institution, especially in countries with systemic corruption and weak institution. Some have even said it will ginger the agitation for more Special Courts by other law enforcement agencies is not relevant; since the US which is the model for democracy and all other forms of civilization has more Special Courts than the courts of other jurisdiction.

To the optimist, when the bulk of the system is deficient, Special Courts are the only way to ensure due judicial process conviction of the corrupt, which is one of the essential elements in the overall fight against corruption.

I am urging the National assembly to look at the suffering of the 150 million Nigerians who have been put to penury by these criminals that stand in the way of economic progress of the country and with at all times corrupt the system for their selfish needs and greed.

The creation of Special Court is of crucial importance to the overall success of the legal profession, the profession is highly visible and active member of the Nigerian society.

Ensuring the legal profession to understand the nature of the court will not only assist in contributing towards the legitimacy of the institution  among wider society, it will lay the ground work for increase in capacity within the profession, ultimately contributing to the re-establishment of the Rule of Law to the country.

If created, broadly dissemination of information is essential to the transparency of the Special Court, its credibility and ultimately its effectiveness. if information is lacking ,the danger exist that the void will be filled by misinformation, spread by those seeking deliberately to exploit peoples fear and suspicions to discredit the institution. These could only impede the courts ability to function.

Such a programme, organized in such a way, stands the best chance of ensuring the special courts transparency and accountability, and promoting the notion of it being inclusive institution serving the needs of the people for effective accountability for the fight against corruption.

The absence of concerted efforts via a well defined structure and Special Courts to combat corruption would usually fagg out investigators in particular and the anti –graft agencies in general whose          activities are usually stretched out in exhilarating adrenalin  after a supposedly long and strained investigation, They would naturally be disillusioned for the fact that their hard work is not rewarded by the judiciary, which some would argue,  have been compromised, necessitating unwarranted and    laughable injunctions while prosecuting a supposedly        well investigated high profile corruption cases.
These unscrupulously accused persons have perfected the act of delaying justice by utilizing the technicalities of      procedure of the conventional courts.

Conclusively, the need for drastic measures to tackle the problem of corruption in the country is to keep pace with other parts of the world in development, countries like France, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa, have resorted to the establishment of Special Courts to try corruption cases and we may do well to learn from them.                           



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