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Itse Sagay Prof forecasts victory in anti-corruption war

Sagay who is also a constitutional lawyer, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

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Prof Itse Sagay

(The Nation)

Prof. Itse Sagay, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, on Thursday expressed optimism that the Federal Government will win the ongoing fight against corruption.

Sagay who is also a constitutional lawyer, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The Lagos-based lawyer spoke on the backdrop of recent directives to judges by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, during an event to mark the new legal year.

Sagay said the CJN should undertake in-depth study of judicial officers, with a view to fishing out “bad eggs”, so as to give the war against corruption the needed push to succeed.

He noted that the war was multifaceted requiring thorough work, and expressed optimism that the government would surmount every obstacle clogging the wheels of Justice.

“We are very concerned about the judiciary because without them, we simply kiss the anti corruption war goodbye; so we must have a competent judiciary otherwise, they will keep messing up corruption cases.

“A number of judges take decisions and interfere with ongoing corruption cases which in my view indicates their hostility for the anti corruption war.

“The government is very much aware of some of these practices but as you know, this is a law abiding government which believes so much in the rule of law and allows itself to be guided by it.

“I am optimistic that government will achieve victory in its war against corruption; so for the new Legal year, I urge the Chief Judge to look keenly at his officers and those who are found incompetent, should be eased out of the system.

“More so, if we can get the National Assembly to pass the Special Criminal Court bill into an Act, then, it will be settled that only qualified judges with “established” reputation for integrity, honour and honesty will be appointed there,” the constitutional lawyer said.

Also, the Second Vice President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Onyekachi Ubani, called for concerted efforts to fast-track judicial process.

According to Ubani, the new Legal year must be characterized by speedy justice delivery which is “lacking in the past years.”

He said that the system must eliminate delays in filing of processes in court, serving of the processes, assigning cases to judges, commencement of hearing, and delivery of judgment.

Ubani said that a greater difficulty was also experienced in the enforcement of those judgements, and called for an urgent redress from the appropriate regulatory bodies.

He condemned elongation of criminal cases in courts, even where effective prosecution of an accused was not conducted.

Ubani, however, called on the CJN to put in place mechanism to check undue delays, adding that the new Legal year should be an epitome of judicial excellence.

“Judges must take charge of their courts and shun every element of delay whether by lawyers or litigants, and take steps to promote the justice system,” he said.

Similarly, the Chairman, Foundation for Indigent Prisoners, Mr Anthony Makolo, also advised the CJN to put in place mechanisms to check delays in justice delivery.

According to Makolo, every new legal year commences with a church service and prayers offered for the year to be successful, and so, lawyers as well as litigants must strive to ensure a smooth sail of Justice.

“In the new Legal year, I strongly urge the Chief Justice and all judges to work tirelessly in ensuring that corruption is phased out from our legal system."

“Judgments should be delivered without technicalities, fear, favour or political influence,” he said.

Makolo urged judges to see themselves as officers ordained by God to head the temple of Justice and called on them to act same.

Another constitutional lawyer, Mr Goke Olakulehin, also sued for adequate case management in the new legal year.

He condemned undue delay and extension of time in pre-trial conferences, adding that the rules of court must be modified to provide for a limit to the period allowed for pre-trial conferences.

“By the rules of court, case management conferences were supposed to be within six months, but some judges further extend the period of the conference for some cases, thus making it difficult for other cases to be accommodated."

“In the new Legal year, it should not be business as usual; all judicial officers must be apt in putting in place a versatile Judiciary,” he said.

Olakulehin called on lawyers to be dedicated to the case management process, in order to forestall delay, which may hinder effective justice delivery.

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