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Lawmaker appeals for speedy trial of corruption cases

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The member representing Etinan-Nsit Ibo/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke, has advocated for a time limit for the trial of corruption-related matters for the nation’s judiciary to succeed in its corruption fight.

Luke made the appeal at the fourth African Union Day of Anti-Corruption, while speaking on “Innovative Anti-Corruption Reforms in Judiciary: Best Practices.”

The lawmaker said that corruption was one of the major problems of the country, which must be eradicated.

He recommended the amendment of the nation’s constitution to set a time limit within which trials and appeals against corruption-related cases could be concluded just like in election matters.

He argued that setting of a time frame would eliminate delay in the prosecution of corruption cases and ensure that such issues were concluded and judgment delivered expeditiously.

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He also appealed for the creation of special courts to try corruption cases and deployment of more judges to handle them since the regular courts had been over-inundated with cases.

His words: “There should be a total overhaul of both the physical and technical at such designated courts and installation of modern gadgets to aid judges in quick justice delivery.”

He also asked for judges to be provided with adequate legal and research assistants to make their work easier.

Luke also suggested the limitation of certain corruption appeals only to the Courts of Appeal to expedite in concluding corruption-related appeals.

Besides, the lawmaker drew a comparison with appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States where not all appeals were entertained by the court but handed down precedents in major cases which lower courts use them to settle similar cases.

“The Supreme Court review cases to determine whether they have merits and far-reaching implications before they are heard. Such reviewing mechanism needs to be introduced into our legal system which will expedite determination of corruption-related appeals,” he said.

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The lawmaker, however, advocated for better remuneration and welfare packages for judicial officers to aid them in effective discharge of their duties.

He suggested: “Only persons of impeccable character and proven integrity should be appointed as judicial officers.”

According to him, such would strengthen the fight against corruption.

He, however, called for the preservation of the sanctity of the court, while decrying the invasion of court premises by security agencies.

He commended the Judiciary for its good works, and commending the executive for its fight against corruption.

The dialogue was put together by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Nigeria in conjunction with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

Other panelists who spoke were Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Court of Appeal, Mr Olarenwaju Suraj of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Mrs Chinwe Ndubueze, Asst. Director Legal, EFCC and others who contributed to the discourse.

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