The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmud (SAN), has said for the proposed special courts for corruption cases to succeed, the court must be given adequate resources and infrastructural support.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, had at the opening of the new legal year of the Supreme Court announced plans to designate a special court to handle corruption-related cases as part of efforts to speedily determine cases in the country.
The NBA president while declaring support for the move by the judiciary in fighting corruption, however urged the judiciary to ensure the effectiveness of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, noting that the act has a lot of potential in aiding speedy dispensation of justice in the country.
Mahmud stated this in response to journalists’ questions on the position of the association on the proposed special corruption court at the inauguration of two special committees of the NBA in Abuja.
“There has been a lot of agitations for special courts, of course as you know this is not the first time we would be having special courts in the country, we have had special courts before.
“Essentially, what is important is that the courts are given enough resources and infrastructural support, I mean power support to undertake speedy trials, especially corruption cases,” he said.
Mahmud acknowledged that there are a lot of dissatisfactions over the speed of the trial of corruption cases hence the support for their creation.
“So we don’t have any objections to such special courts been set up but in addition we must not loose sight of the wider issues involved in criminal justice administration.
“We have a new criminal justice act which came into force in 2015, a lot of innovation have been introduced, the NBA is now in the process of organising a summit to really review the progress of the implementation of this act to see what lessons have been learnt so far and what areas needed to be improved.
“The whole idea is that we need a more effective and more speedy criminal justice system,” he added.
The NBA National President disclosed that the inauguration of the two committees; the Disciplinary / Prosecution Committee and the NBA Constitution Review Committee is aimed at making the association more effective.
Mr. Yussuf Alli (SAN) was announced as Chairman of Constitution Review Committee, while Jubrin Okutepa (SAN) chairs the Disciplinary / Prosecution Committee.
Mahmud commended Okutepa and his team for doing a great job, adding that the inauguration was to expand the committee with the view of speeding up disciplinary process of its members.
“We are happy with what the current team is doing and we felt given the volume of the work involved we need more hands and we really need to encourage them to do more,” he said.
Mahmud however, stated that the Constitution Review Committee on its part was essentially set up to address all the lingering issues affecting the NBA constitution.
“It was a decision of the annual general meeting, at our meeting in Lagos on August 24th to review the NBA constitution, I constituted this committee following the approval of the annual general meeting.
He said: “The committee is to be responsible for collecting the votes of our members and contributing as to what and what needed to be amended or change as far as the NBA constitution is concerned.”
Areas of urgent attention he advised the committee on include, succession pattern and the structure of the NBA branches which according to him is not viable.
He expressed hope that the committee would conclude its job quickly and submit it’s report that would be consented at the annual general meeting slated for early November.
Responding, the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, Alli, thanked the association for the opportunity to serve and promised on behalf of others to do the association proud.
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