President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that the corruption cases filed by his administration are not progressing speedily as they should, expressing worry that the expectation of Nigerians is yet to be met by the judiciary.
He then urged the judiciary to support his administration’s fight against corruption, stressing that a well-functioning criminal justice system seeks to move the country towards greater growth and development.
The President spoke in Abuja on Monday during a workshop on the role of judges in the fight against corruption, where he also expressed concern over the “toleration of delay tactics by lawyers”.
According to him, “I am worried that the expectation of the public is yet to be met by the judiciary with regard to the removal of delay and the toleration of delay tactics by lawyers.
“When cases are not concluded the negative impression is given that crime pays. So far, the corruption cases filed by government are not progressing as speedily as they should in spite of the administration of criminal justice act of 2015 essentially because the courts allow some lawyers to frustrate the reforms introduced by law.
“This certainly needs to change if we have to make success of our collective effort in the fight against corruption. As we are all aware, I have made the fight against corruption one of the top priorities of this administration in the hope of restoring the economy and building a new Nigeria.
“In the face of dwindling revenues and in a bid at repositioning Nigeria’s economy, it became obligatory to swiftly tackle two ills: waste and corruption. The eradication of corruption is a joint task involving not only judges and members of the legal profession, but all stakeholders, including all branches of government, the media, the civil society and the general citizenry.
“The challenge is to come up with an integrated approach that balances process and substance, promote clarity so as to ensure a coherent and realistic formulation of objectives. To this end, the judiciary is duty bound to keep its house in order and to ensure that the public, which it serves, sees this. Thus, we cannot expect to make any gains in the war against corruption in our society when the judiciary is seen as being distant from the struggle. This will not augur well and its negative effect will impact all sectors of society.
“The judiciary must fight delay of cases in court as well as it fights corruption within its own ranks perceived or otherwise. We expect to see less tolerance to delay tactics used by defense lawyers or even the prosecution in taking cases to their conclusion.”
Buhari, however, commended the arm of government for its efforts in fostering justice and accountability, adding that while recognising those efforts, it is worth reminding “ourselves of the persisting challenges that confront the criminal justice system.”