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Falana rejects special courts for EFCC

By Kenneth Ehigiator
President of West African Bar Association, Mr. Femi Falana, said yesterday that special courts would not enhance the ability of the  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in the anti-corruption war.

He also flayed U.S. President, Mr. Barack Obama, for talking down on Africa, rather than outline how the West would compensate the continent for over 500 years of colonialism, during his recent visit to Ghana.

EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, had repeatedly accused judges of frustrating  the commission’s efforts in the prosecution of high-profile suspects charged for financial crimes, saying the creation of special courts would fast-track prosecution of suspects.

Speaking with newsmen at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Falana argued that the necessary environment had not been created for special courts to thrive. He added that the same forces that had worked against the conventional courts would militate against them.

He said: “With profound respect to Mrs. Waziri, we need to look at why those cases are delayed. If you create new courts under the present political milieu, nothing will change. On President Obama’s visit, he  expressed disappointment that he could only make a stop-over in Ghana, despite his African root.

He said rather than speak on how the West could go about compensating Africa for long years of exploitation through colonialism, he blamed Africa’s underdevelopment on Africans.

“If an accused person hiding under the rule of law, who has been charged with N50 billion, is granted bail, he takes advantage of his temporary liberty to destroy evidence, bribe the witnesses, and those who refuse to cooperate, he eliminates them.

“What do you expect, the case is stalled, you give him his passport, he travels around the world, and makes a mockery of our criminal justice system, so these are the problems.  It is not about creating new courts, and our evidence law and criminal law, and our evidence in particular are very primitive, it is not current.”

Falana argued that the court system in the country was too archaic for the proposed special courts for financial criminals to thrive.

He said the issue goes beyond creating special courts, stressing that what was necessary was a reform of the laws of the country.

According to him, “in Lagos recently, a judge held that he could not admit a computer generated bank statement, how do you try money laundering cases?   He relied on the evidence act.  What do you expect?

“If you send me a threat on my phone that you are going to kill me, I cannot tender that in court, you really cannot move, and if these are the practices you are taking to a new court, you would not move.   It is really not about creating new courts, it is about reforming our laws to accelerate criminal trials in our courts.”

On President Obama’s visit to Ghana, Falana expressed disappointment that the American president could only make a stop over in Ghana, despite his African root.

He said rather than speak on how the West could go about compensating Africa for long years of exploitation through colonialism, he blamed Africa’s underdevelopment on Africans.

“I watched the Obama stop over in Ghana, sentiments apart, I think it was an embarrassment for Africa that Obama only made a stop in Africa. And even at that, it was a “yabbis session”. And that was not what Africans are expecting from the first black president of United State of America.

“He talked down on Africans. You can not blame the under development of Africa, you cannot just dismiss it on the basis of corruption of its leaders. And I reject in its entirety the statement credited to Obama that we should no longer blame colonialists of slave trade.”

He noted Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the Middle East, wondering if those countries were democratic.


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