In a bid to fast track the trial of alleged treasury looters, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday, directed Judges handing corruption cases to hear such matters on a day-to-day basis.
The CJN said the National Judicial Council, NJC, would henceforth, descend heavily on any trial judge found to have stayed proceeding on any criminal matter before his court.
Justice Mahmud who made the declaration while flagging-off the 2016 Refresher Course for judicial officers on current trends in law and administration of justice, said the measure became necessary in view of mounting criticisms against the Judiciary.
Addressing participants at the 5-day workshop, comprising of judges from different states of the federation, the CJN, said they must learn to “treat cases related to economic crimes and corruption with the necessary urgency”.
He maintained that the essence of the newly enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, was to forestall situations where accused persons use frivolous interlocutory applications to frustrate their trial.
The theme of the workshop which is holding at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja, is “Promoting Judicial Performance through Innovations and Reforms”.
The CJN said: “The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, protection of the society from crime and protection of the rights and interests of the suspect, the defendant and the victim.
“My lords, as you all are well aware, the Judiciary has had to endure intense, largely unjustified and grossly uninformed criticisms regarding delay in the administration of justice.
“However, I am proud that the Judiciary was well ahead of the curve when the 2013 Practice Directions on Serious Crimes were adopted as the Directions were aimed at reducing criminal trial delays.
“Nonetheless, the new Act strengthens our resolve as it provides that applications for stay of proceedings shall no longer be heard in respect of a criminal matter before the court.
“This unprecedented provision puts a stop to the delays occasioned by interlocutory applications to stay proceedings pending appeal on preliminary matters when the substantive issues are yet to be tried on the merits.