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Ekweremadu canvasses special courts for graft cases




• ‘Saraki won’t benefit from CCB, CCT law review’

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu yesterday called for establishment of special anti-corruption courts to reduce the burden on regular courts and speed up trial of graft cases.

Speaking in his office while playing host to officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) led by its National Assembly Liaison Officer, Suleiman Bakari,
Ekweremadu, who was decorated by the EFCC as an ‘Anti-Corruption Ambassador’, noted that setting up special courts was one of the surest ways to help the fight against corruption, as it would ensure speedy adjudication of graft cases.

Ekweremadu, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, stated: “I have been an advocate of special courts for the trial of corruption cases and I believe that other countries, who have enacted laws establishing such, are not fools because there are benefits to be derived from it. The idea is to expedite trial to make sure that those who are involved in corruption matters will have their day in court.

“When we have special courts, just as we have the National Industrial Court, such courts will do better than they are doing now. The establishment of special courts is not just something that will be done by an Act of the National Assembly. We have to amend the constitution to bring it about under section 6, for the purpose of trying corruption cases.”

The leader of the EFCC delegation, Bakari, appealed to the National Assembly to ensure adequate funding for the agency and advocated speedy passage of all the anti-corruption Bills before it.

Meanwhile, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the move by the National Assembly to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJ Act), describing it as self-service and contrary to paragraph one of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

The group said the purpose of the amendment was to exclude the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the application of the ACJ Act.

According to a statement endorsed by the National coordinator of the group, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, the move is a clear bid by the leadership of the Senate to frustrate, at all costs, the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the tribunal.

But the Senate yesterday clarified its position on the proposed amendment of the CCB and CCT law, saying under no circumstances can the amendment affect the on-going case of Saraki before the tribunal.

In a statement signed by the Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate stated that many of the comments on the proposed amendments were made by those who had neither read the bill nor understood the principles behind it.
Abdullahi said since the Saraki case commenced in 2015, any amendment of the law in 2016 cannot retroactively affect an on-going case, adding that the proposed amendment would still take a minimum of six months, given the long process that law making requires.

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