By Victor Ahiuma-Young
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the setting up of a specialised courts to handle cases of financial and economic crimes in the country to give more bite to the anti-graft agencies.
President of NLC,Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, in a chat with Vanguard, lamented that there were rising evidence that the nationâ€™s current criminal justice system was impeding rather than enhance the course of justice needed to sufficiently restrict to the barest minimum the kleptomaniac tendencies of our political leadership and other financial and economic crimes.
According to him, â€œOn Tuesday, July 7, 2009, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, paid a courtesy call to Congress at Labour House, our National Secretariat. While she came, according to her, to appreciate the strategic importance and to seek the support of the Labour movement to the anti-corruption crusade, she also opened up to Congress on her frustrations on the effort to bring to justice to our treasury looters.
â€œIn the course of our interaction, it became clear that our current criminal justice system is hawed and in more ways stand to impede rather than enhance the course of justice needed to sufficiently restrict to the barest minimum the kleptomaniac tendencies of our political leadership and other financial and economic crimes.â€
â€œWe can also deduced from Mrs Waziriâ€™s explanations the need to have special courts duly set up to handle only financial and economic crimes as is done in some countries with record success against corruption. I would, therefore, urge that Congress methodically discussed in session the possibility of advocating special anti-corruption courts.â€
On the crisis in the Niger Delta region, Comrade Omar said: â€œThe Niger Delta crisis has been of major concern to Congress. Our concern is measured by the attention Congress continued to accord the issues, environmental or social, arising from the area.
â€œIn the spirit of our informed knowledge and history of the crisis, Congress immediately expressed support to the amnesty granted by the Federal Government on June 25, 2009 to all fighters in the Niger Delta. We are happy with the broad nature of the amnesty which includes the grant of pardon to all fighters under prosecution for preferred offences relating to the armed struggle. We are glad so far with the conflict resolution mechanism and approaches so far between government and the fighters,â€ he said.
Our interest in the crisis, apart from the patriotic consciousness of Congress also derive from the fact that the immediate and direct casualties of the conflict include workers in the oil industry who are directly or indirectly members of Congress coupled with the fact that many workers are under tremendous stress and trauma for working under such very dangerous conditions.
However, we do not see the amnesty as complete answer to the Niger-Delta crises. It is, instead, our position that both Government and the militants use it as a platform to begin a genuine process for redressing all issues bordering on environmental degradation, injustice and deprivation that has led the Niger-Delta people to pick up arms.â€