Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reaffirmed the determination of the Federal government to apprehend and deter perpetrators of corruption in order to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria.
“Corruption fight is a cardinal focus of this present administration and government is poised to tame the monster that is ravaging our economy and causing untold hardship to its citizens”, he vowed.
Osinbajo stated this on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, while declaring open a 2-day capacity workshop organized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in collaboration with National Judicial Institute, NJI, for Justices, Judges, prosecutors and other stakeholders in the judicial system, at the National Judicial Institute, Mohammed Bello Centre, Jabi, Abuja.
The workshop, first ever, with the theme “Emerging Trends in Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Financial Crimes”, was designed to help in building a team-based, non-adversarial collaborative justice system that works and is beneficial to all stakeholders.
Osinbajo, who described corruption as a cancer which may be terminal if not checked, lamented the adverse implications the ‘cankerworm’ is having on education, healthcare, social services, infrastructure and indeed quality of life of citizens.
According to him, “As part of anti-corruption strategy, we are also re-equipping our prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial reforms is to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases”.
He urged Nigerians to joins forces with the government in tackling the ‘hydra-headed monster’ saying, “We must come together as patriotic citizens to rescue our nation from the shackles of corruption”.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, in his keynote address described the theme of the workshop as “apt and in line with the current realities in modes of investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in Nigeria”.
Onnoghen, who is also the Chairman, Board of Governors, NJI, identified the role of the judiciary and the EFCC as vital in the fight against corruption.
“The Judiciary is an important stakeholder which has a crucial role to play in ensuring that, sustainable solutions to the mounting legal challenges to the success of the fight against corruption are sustained. This workshop will bring to the fore the challenges faced by the Commission as well as pontificate on solutions, and expose stakeholders to global best practices in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes”, he said.
While expressing optimism that the war against corruption can be won in Nigeria, the CJN said: “With the coming into effect of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, and the recent designation of special courts to handle corruption cases, we are assured of enduring success in the fight against corruption in Nigeria”.
He, however, warned against over-sensational reporting of corruption cases by the media which he said is often pre-judicial or impugn the integrity of the judges involved in such cases.
In her address of welcome, the administrator, NJI, Justice R.P.I Bozimo commended the initiative of the organizers of the workshop which according to her “could not have come at a better time than now”.
According to her, the workshop was organised ‘in fulfilment of the mandate of the Institute as outlined under Section 3 (1) of the National Judicial Institute Act, Cap N55 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004’; which provides as follows:
“The Institute shall serve as the principal focal point of judicial activities relating to the promotion of efficiency, uniformity and improvement in the quality of judicial services in the superior and inferior Courts.”
While calling on Justices and Judges to ensure proper adjudication and resolution of lingering cases pertaining to seizure, forfeiture of assets and money laundering Bozimo said, “I must not fail to emphasize that in order to sustain public confidence in the Judiciary, Judges must be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand in the way of substantive justice. The Judiciary is saddled with the responsibility of upholding the Rule of Law by interpreting, construing and applying the relevant laws. I therefore encourage you to interpret the law without bias, affection and ill-will”.
She thanked the EFCC for collaborating with the NJI urging participants to pay rapt attention, contribute meaningfully and participate actively at the sessions.
In his remark, Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, EFCC, appreciated the support of the Presidency, the National Assembly and the Judiciary in simplifying the task of hosting the programme.
The EFCC boss said that there is no dispute that corruption is a cankerworm bedeviling the socio-economic life of our country and called for a common consensus in tackling it.
He thanked the Administrator, NJI, for all the support and extended appreciation to resource persons and participants for agreeing to share their wealth of experience believing that they would all leave with a renewed desire and zeal towards combating corruption.