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“CJN Takes Action: Issues Warning to Judges Against Overemphasis on Technicality

Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, has warned judges not to let minor details obstruct the administration of justice.

He added that the judiciary has maintained to uphold expectations in the performance of its onerous duties as a mediator between parties.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) addressed on Tuesday in Abuja at the 5th National Judicial Institute (NJI)/Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Capacity Building Workshop for Justices and Judges.

The CJN made his remark as various electoral petition tribunals were issuing their rulings.

Depending on which way the pendulum swings, the parties to the suits/petitions are either applauding or criticising the rulings.

Justice Ariwoola, who spoke at the session, urged judges to take more initiative in settling ongoing corruption cases throughout the cases

He said: “Judges must be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand against substantive justice.”

The CJN, who commended the theme of the workshop, said it was coming at an appropriate as “it resonates deeply with the current state of our nation and the challenges of resolving lingering cases in our courts.”

Declaring the workshop open, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu commended the EFCC for making impressive gains in the fight against economic and financial crimes, and called for more vigorous and robust efforts at tackling the monster of corruption.

He said there were profound gains already made in the fight against corruption and that the EFCC played remarkable roles in achieving them.

He said: “For instance, available records show that EFCC has continued to achieve significant milestones in securing convictions and asset recovery running into billions of naira.

“There have also been significant improvements in the policy and legal frameworks for combating corruption with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Plan and new legislations against money laundering, illicit financial flow and terrorism financing.”

The president noted the devastating effects of corruption against the nation’s growth and called for multi-sectoral and multifaceted approaches in tackling them.

Tinubu also said emphasis must be placed on synergy and inter-agency collaboration as potent weapons of attack against the monster.

“Corruption and related financial crimes have become a menace in our national life and have in consequence attracted poor perception index rating for Nigeria globally. It requires concerted collaborative efforts to effectively combat it”, he said.

While commending the efforts of “successive leadership of the EFCC and NJI” for sustaining the anti-graft war, the president charged judicial officers to be more passionate and courageous in carrying out their assignments to rid the nation of corrupt practices. “Without competent and courageous judges who are passionate about their country, progress in fighting corruption is impossible,” he said.

Tinubu, who spoke through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, applauded the theme of the workshop: “Consolidating on the Gains in the Fight against Economic and Financial Crimes.”

The president said: “My administration is determined to ensure that these gains are not reversed and that Nigeria achieves her dream of reducing corruption to the barest minimum.  He assured that his agenda of fighting corruption is “not just a mantra but a call to duty by all agencies involved in combating the malaise.”

He specifically called for proper inter-agency synergy and collaboration while promising the “provision of adequate resources for the achievement of this noble objective and will therefore not accept any excuse for failure.”

The President expressed commitment to improving the efficiency of the administration of criminal justice system and make “comprehensive investments across the entire justice system in Nigeria to improve human resource capacity and create enabling working environment in view of rising backlogs of and attendant congestion of correctional centres.”

“He charged the NJI to take decisive steps in ensuring drastic improvement in the rating and perception of the nation’s judiciary.  He also tasked the judiciary to be more proactive in the trial of awaiting inmates, arguing that “victims of all manner of crimes and their family must also be able to get justice within a reasonable time,” Fagbemi said.

Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, acting chair of the EFCC, highlighted the joint efforts of the EFCC and the NJI and stated that “to effectively fight the menace of corruption and economic and financial crimes, the symbiotic relationship between the EFCC and the judiciary must be enhanced and encouraged.”

Though battling economic and financial crimes presents difficult obstacles, the speaker said that “our dynamism and pro-activeness as a law enforcement agency has given us the advantage to be a step ahead of these criminals and continue to develop strategies to deal with them accordingly.”

The head of the EFCC expressed optimism about the workshop’s potential to provide the greatest value to each stakeholder, stating that “this workshop will yield its desired purpose and communicate implementable solutions.”

 

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