The National Judicial Council has said that the special corruption and financial crimes courts which the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, in September 2017, directed heads of courts to designate in their domains, have delivered 324 judgments in the last six months.
The NJC, in a statement by its Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, on Sunday, said the special courts also struck out 12 cases and reserved 62 cases for judgment within the same period.
Oye said this was contained in a report by the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trials Monitoring Committee tasked with monitoring the courts.
Giving a breakdown of the judgements, Oye said, in Zone A, which by COTRIMCO’s categorisation comprises the courts, including the Supreme Court, in Abuja, 131 judgements were delivered in about 535 pending cases.
Oye said in Zone B, which comprises the courts in the northern zone, 62 judgements were delivered in the total of ongoing 425 cases in the courts in the zone.
According to the figures reeled out by Oye on Sunday, Zone C, which comprises the courts in the southern part of the country, has 952 ongoing financial/corruption cases, which is the highest when compared to the numbers from the other zones.
Of the 952 cases, Oye said judgements were delivered in 131 of them in that zone.
Giving the fuller details, the statement said, “Of the total number of 324 judgments delivered, the Supreme Court, in Zone A, delivered 52 judgments and reserved seven cases for judgement from the list of 125 cases pending before it, leaving an outstanding number of 73 cases.
“The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, within the period, also disposed of 74 appeals and reserved 11 for judgement from the list of 137 cases in its docket.
“The Federal High Court delivered two judgements from the 91 pending cases before it, while the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory likewise delivered three judgements and reserve one case for judgement thereby leaving an outstanding number of 178 cases pending.
“In Zone B, Northern Zone, 62 judgements were delivered by the six Court of Appeal Divisions, 19 Federal High Court Divisions and 19 High Courts of various northern states from the total number of 425 cases pending in the Zone, while 12 cases were struck out.
“Of the 12 cases struck out, five are from the Court of Appeal and seven from High Courts of three states.
“The designated Courts in Zone C, (Southern Zone), have delivered judgements in 131 out of the 952 corruption and financial crime cases ongoing at the various Courts and reserved 43 cases for judgements.
“From the total number of judgements delivered in the zone, the Federal High Court delivered seven judgements out of a total of 304 cases pending before it; while the High Courts of 17 states delivered 124 cases from the 524 ongoing in their various courts.
“The Court of Appeal in the zone has reserved 31 out of 121 appeals pending in the Court for judgement. The Federal High Court, on its part, reserved three cases for judgement while the various State High Courts in the Zone have reserved nine cases for judgement.”
The CJN had during a special session of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2017/2018 Legal Year in September last year, directed heads of various courts to designate the special courts and announced the setting up of the COTRIMCO.
The COTRIMCO headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima and inaugurated by the CJN in November 2017, was mandated to determine the causes of slow pace of corruption and financial crimes cases in the country’s courts.
Oye said that the report by COTRIMCO, the committee’s second in about six weeks, was issued after the committee, in the last six months “crisscrossed the country to monitor and ensure compliance with the directive of the Honourable Chief Justice to ensure speedy dispensation of the cases.”
On how the committee carried out its monitoring, Oye said, “Upon receipt of (the lists of cases), the committee divided itself into three sub-committees to cater for the easy monitoring and evaluation of the said cases in the different zones of the country as follows:
“Zone A: Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory; Zone B: Northern Zone; and Zone C: Southern Zone.”
Oye said the committee would continue its monitoring after the courts’ vacation which would commence this July and end in September.