• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

NASS debates bill for establishment of special court on corruption

NASS-building

The National Assembly has commenced debate on a bill to set up special courts that would help fastrack the adjudication of corruption cases.

The proposed legislation comes a year after President Muhammadu Buhari set up an anti-corruption advisory committee and advocated the establishment of a specialised anti-corruption court. The bill, it it now scales through would give strength to President Buhari’s fight against corruption, experts who spoke to BusinessDay said.

The bill titled: ‘Anti-Corruption Court (Establishment Etc) Bill, 2016’ has passed First Reading on the floor of the Senate and was sponsored by Duro Faseyi, an opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker from Ekiti State.

If the bill is  passed into law, Nigeria will join the league of countries like India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Kenya, with special anti-corruption courts.

As of 2012, the country was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence, even as Buhari defined corruption as the greatest form of human rights violation.

The bill, seen by BusinessDay, provides for establishment of an the anti-corruption court as a superior court of record and stipulates that the court will have all the powers of a High Court.

An anti-graft crusade was announced as one of the cardinal electoral promises of Buhari in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

After Buhari assumed of office on May 29, 2015, the media was awash with reports that he would establish special anti-corruption courts to deal with tax evasion cases and official graft.

Addressing an  audience at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London in May this year, the President called for the establishment of an international judicial framework to further enhance countries anti-corruption wars.

Analysts, however, have expressed divergent opinions about how a bill on the proposed anti-corruption court would be a game changer in the anti-graft crusade.

While some legal experts and analysts told BusinessDay that the idea of anti-corruption court was long overdue, considering the long delay by regular courts in deciding corruption-related cases, others kicked against it and advocated that selected judges from regular courts be trained to try such special cases.

There are fears that such courts could become kangaroo courts for doing the biddings of the government of the day.

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE