Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, on Thursday said the number of corruption cases unearthed within the last nine months by anti-graft agencies was mind-boggling and unprecedented in the nation’s history.
Sagay spoke in Lagos at the 2016 Lecture and Award Ceremony of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents (NAJUC), Lagos State Chapter. The theme of the lecture is “The Judiciary, Media, Anti-graft Agencies and the Fight Against Corruption.” “The amount of corruption cases unearthed in this country in the last nine months has been unprecedented and mind-boggling, he said.
“How is it possible for the welfare of Nigerians to be improved when we are digging ourselves out of a hole created by the past administration? “If this government had not taken over when it did, we would have been treading the path of Zimbabwe in terms of inflation,” Sagay said. The professor disclosed that special courts would soon be established for the prosecution of financial crimes.
“My committee has concluded the drawing up of the Special Crimes Act for judges who will be specifically selected to adjudicate special crimes such as financial crimes, kidnapping, cyber crimes and drugs.” He said the committee had made various reforms that would tremendously aid the speedy dispensation of justice of high profile corruption cases in the country.
Sagay said: “We have created a new manual for prosecution of financial cases which will give prosecutors a step by step process for prosecution. “We have recommended that for effective prosecution, the prosecution should be made up of a team comprising an investigator, prosecutor and other lawyers.
“A series of workshops have been organised by the committee for 180 prosecutors across the country in which we brought in a number of experts to teach them how to draft charges to prevent the charges being faulted in court.” Sagay also debunked the notion that President Muhammadu Buhari was personally involved in the fight against corruption, stressing that the ongoing anti-corruption campaign was not a witch-hunt.
“I am involved in the anti-corruption struggle, I have never received a call from the President giving me instructions on anything, he has assigned responsibilities and he is facing the governance of the country which is what he was elected for. “We regard corruption cases from the last administration as low hanging fruits because they are the most obvious and have the most impact in terms of resolution,” he stressed.
Also speaking, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Obla, said the judiciary was pivotal in the fight against corruption. “The institutional role of the judiciary puts it on a pedestal as a tool for social engineering which is done through the instrumentality of the court system. “The judiciary cannot remain soulless, it must connect with the values of the people in justice delivery “The adjudicatory system in Nigeria supports case law, the interpretation of statutes by judges have a role in effective justice delivery,” he said.