Monday, 10 April 2017

Muoneme Esq, Corruption is an endemic act


Corruption is an endemic act which many have described to have destroyed the foundation of our nation Nigeria. However the question should be, how serious are we taking the war against corruption?

There are three tiers of government, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. Without sounding modest or sentimental, we are yet to be serious about War against Corruption. The executive can be said to be trying their best but some adjudged their actions as partisan , while the Legislature can be said to be exposing the corruption in the system, while some adjudged them as encouraging corruption.

What of the judiciary, can we say on our own side, they are trying? This should be the key question, we may say yes they are, but to the best of my knowledge and in my own opinion, the problem with War Against Corruption starts with the judiciary to a greater extent.

Let us take a look at the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 hereinafter referred to as ACJA. After looking at so many chains and impediment on war against corruption, the draftman of this bill that was passed into law headed by Justice Isaq Bello (Chief Judge of FCT High Court). I believe that they did a wonderful job but how far have that law been implemented. Let's review a particular section of that Act which the judiciary has failed to fully implement and follow strictly, even though there are so many provisions which they are not complying with. However I try to focus more on a particular section, which is very key on our War against corruption.

#Section_396 (3) (4) (5) of ACJA

Section 396 (3) of ACJA provides;

Upon arraignment the trial of the defendant shall proceed from day to day until conclusion of the trial.

This particular section of the law is very clear and the key question is, how much have our criminal courts complied with this provision of the law? However let's consider Section 396 (4) (5) and know what it is the intendment of the draftman.

Section 396 (4) of ACJA provides;

Where day to day trial is impracticable after arraignment, no party shall be entitled to more than five adjournment from arraignment to final judgement: provided always that the interval between each adjournment shall not exceed fourteen days.

Section 396 (5) of ACJA went further to provide;

Where it is impracticable to conclude a criminal proceeding after the parties have exhausted their five adjournment each, the interval between one adjournment to another shall not exceed seven days inclusive of weekends.

From the above provisions, we are left to conclude that where sub 3 is impracticable then we shall fall back to sub 4 and 5. This simply follows that ACJA recommends that criminal matter should be expeditious. The key question is, have the court followed this provision diligently and strictly particularly in high profile cases like the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trial of Senator Bukola Saraki, the Olisa Metuh Case, Alex Badeh Case, Yuguda case and Dasuki's case which is controversial surrounded with non compliance position of the executive on his bail.

Therefore the Judiciary as the tier of government that handles criminal issues particularly trial should strictly follow the provisions of ACJA in handling all the criminal cases particularly high profile criminal cases.

The hope of Nigeria in fighting corruption does not only lie with the executive but also the judiciary.

PMB will do his part while the judiciary will do the major part however the executive should rise up and strictly follow the part of rule of law in controversial high profile cases and also  build a strong prosecution team well grounded on technicalities of ACJA because when a nation harbours a fail prosecution team then the nation is best   described as a failed nation which gives room for an escape route to corrupt officers on corruption matters.

Thank you.

I A Muoneme Esq
Convener The Anambra Achievers (TAA)  Forum.

Writing from FCT Abuja Nigeria.

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