The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, OFR has tasked judicial institutions to make conscious decisions that would promote the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The ICPC Boss also emphasised the importance of repositioning the Judiciary as the fulcrum of the Rule of Law in order to eradicate corruption within the system.
This formed the focal point of his contribution to discussions at a roundtable for Heads of Courts with the heads of government anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria organized by the National Judicial Institute, Abuja recently.
Speaking at the event with the theme, “Repositioning the Judiciary as the Fulcrum of The Rule of Law”, the ICPC Chairman raised new issues under money laundering and its immediate consequences.
According to him, Nigeria was recently grey listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but for some reasons, the development did not gain traction.
Grey listing of Nigeria, the anti-graft Boss bemoaned, has very serious implications for the work force and for the strides of economic development.
“The first immediate consequence of FATF grey listing the country is reputational damage, when one carries a green passport or initiates a transaction from the country, it receives enhanced scrutiny”, he stated.
Prof. Owasanoye further explained the implications of FATF grey listing to include deepened economic ratings; balance of payment deficit due to economic consequence on national and international transactions precisely on trade and investment; high transaction costs for Nigerians as well as high borrowing /lending rates.
All these he noted are majorly because of money laundering and terrorism financing of which the laws to counter them have been passed, but in spite of these laws, the country is being accused of not applying the law judiciously to check corrupt practices given its assessment by international bodies.
“Passing the law itself is not the issue; the watch for it is effectiveness. You must pass the laws and then you must apply them vigorously. The fact is that lots of cases are filed in court but the questions is, how come some obvious case didn’t go through the courts and how does this drop through the cracks?”
The ICPC Boss therefore called on the Criminal Justice Institutions and Law Enforcement Agencies to make conscious decisions and join forces to mitigate these vices.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Honorable Chief justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Board of Governors of the NJI, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, remarked that delay in adjudication of cases poses serious concern to the rule of law and the judiciary’s reputation.
“Prolonged court cases not only deprive individuals of their rights to a prompt trial but also contribute to feelings of frustration and doubt regarding the legal process”, he stated.
He further explained that to address these issues, the Judiciary must streamline and simplify court processes, invest in technology, enhance the capacity of Judicial officers to enable them handle cases efficiently and thereby promote speedy dispensation of justice.
In his address, the NJI Administrator, Hon. Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi, explained that the event served as an invaluable platform to exchange experiences, deliberate on best practices and chart a course for the future.
According to him, the Judiciary, being the fulcrum of any democratic society, acts as a guiding light that upholds the principles of justice, equity and fairness.
“It is imperative, therefore, for Heads of Courts to remain steadfast in their commitment to upholding the Rule of Law, thereby fostering public trust in the judiciary”, he added.