December 11, 2013

Trial of corruption cases: Govt to introduce sentencing guidelines for judges

BY Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, yesterday, revealed that the Federal Government would soon introduce a new ‘Sentencing guidelines’ that would enable judges to hand stiffer sanctions to any public officer convicted on any corruption charge.

The AGF, who made the disclosure on a day the Chairman of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission, NLRC, retired Justice U.A. Kalgo, announced the introduction of a new criminal law for the Federal Capital Territory, which he said would serve as a model for the 36 states of the federation to adopt in future.

Speaking at the formal opening of a National Workshop on Unification and Reform of Criminal and Penal Codes, organized in Abuja yesterday by the NLRC, Adoke said President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to the fight against corruption in the country, saying it had become imperative for the nation’s laws to be reviewed and modernized “if our legal system is to remain relevant in an increasingly dynamic world.”

While commending the NLRC for its efforts towards the harmonization of the Criminal Code which operates in the Southern states and the Penal Code relied upon by Judges in the Northern parts of the country to sentence convicts, the AGF said the project, “has the potentials not only to advance the cause of our criminal law reform efforts, but also to emphasise our unity and integration as one nation.”

In his address, Justice Kalgo said the workshop was the third and final phase on the unification of the criminal and penal codes in Nigeria, saying it was owing to the discrepancies in the two codes that judges often hand light sentence to convicts in the Northern part of the country and descend heavily on others from the Southern part of the country who committed the same offence.

“The NLRC in response to several appeals in the past and now, decided to unify the two Codes which should be applicable in the FCT and can serve as a model for the states to adopt with such modification as the local circumstances may dictate,” he added.