OPINION: Why Special Courts Are Needed to Handle Corruption Cases In Nigeria, By Michael Onjewu
President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 19, during a function organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), called on the national assembly to fast track the passage of a bill seeking the creation of special courts to handle corruption cases in Nigeria.
According to Buhari, corruption has been the cause of most of the ills bedeviling Nigeria today.
"This government is working hard to overcome such ills. Corruption generally and public sector corruption, in particular, inhibits the ability of government to deliver infrastructure and basic services to the people," he said.
It is no longer news that corruption is an epidemic that has stifled the growth of Nigeria since independence. This scourge necessitated the creation of the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2003 and the ICPC in 2010.
Despite these anti-graft agencies, the scourge has continued in both the public and private sectors with the judiciary not doing enough to convict those indicted for corruption.
Here are five reasons why special courts are needed to handle corruption cases in Nigeria.
- Speedy Dispensation of Justice:
Special courts will ensure the expeditious disposal of corruption and financial crime cases in Nigeria. Instances abound where cases pending in our conventional courts are stagnated and unduly delayed. This is because most judges are overwhelmed with different other cases hence delaying the speedy disposal of corruption cases. Also, Judges in the regular courts are fond of questionable long adjournments, frivolous injunctions and undue emphasis on technicalities that detract from the essence of corruption trials.
- Reduction In Corruption And impunity:
Speedy conviction of corrupt individuals will serve as a deterrent to those intending to go into corruption and impunity. This will further buttress the seriousness of the government in its campaign against corrupt practices.
- Morale Booster For Anti-Graft Agencies:
Special courts and the quick dispensation of corrupt cases will serve as a morale booster to the EFCC and ICPC who are currently demoralized due to prolonged cases in courts. Some cases have lingered in courts for over 10 years with no end in sight hence serving as a stumbling block in the fight against graft in Nigeria.
- Quick Recovery Of Looted Assets:
It is on record that millions of naira have been looted by selfish individuals especially politicians in Nigeria. The government has in most cases forfeited these assets due to the loopholes in the judicial system. The introduction of special courts to fight corruption will aid the quick recovery of looted funds by anti-graft agencies. These recovered loots will help increase the government's revenue.
- A catalyst for economic growth and development:
Corruption has been identified as a major impediment to Nigeria's economic growth and development. It is a catalyst for poverty, insecurity, weak educational system, poor health facilities, poor infrastructure and many other ills of the society. The introduction of special courts will help reduce corrupt tendencies in Nigeria, hence stimulating growth and development through the provision of basic services that will improve the living standard of the people.
Nigeria as a nation should countries like Pakistan, Philippines, and Kenya who have special courts to handle corruption, because of its devastating and harmful effect on the nation. The National Assembly should do everything humanly possible to pass into The Special Crimes Court Bill because "if we don't kill corruption, corruption will kill us."
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