The National Judicial Council on Wednesday appointed a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retd) to head its 15-member Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Wednesday that the NJC would meet to set up the committee and implement other new anti-corruption policies announced last week by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, during the special court session marking the commencement of the 2017/2018 legal year.
A statement by the Director of Information of the NJC, which is statutorily chaired by the CJN, confirmed that the Salami-led committee was set up by the council on Wednesday.
Also named among the members of the committee are the current President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud and some of his predecessors.
Ex-NBA presidents named as members of the committee are Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN). and Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN).
Other members of the committee are Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice P.O. Nnadi; Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Marsahal Umukoro; and Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice M. L. Abimbola.
Others include two members of the NJC, Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN) and Mrs. R.I Inga; representative, non-governmental organisations, representative, Ministry of Justice, representative, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
The Secretary of NJC, Gambo Saleh, will serve as the secretary of the committee.
The statement read in part, “The National Judicial Council under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has approved the establishment of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee, to be headed by Hon. Justice Ayo Isa Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal.
“The decision was taken on Wednesday at the 82nd meeting of the Council. The body which has 15 members will operate from the Council secretariat.”
According to Oye, “The committee is expected to drive the council’s new policy on anti-corruption war;” adding that the primary functions of the committee include, “regular monitoring and evaluation of proceedings at designated courts for financial and economic crimes nationwide; advising the Chief Justice of Nigeria on how to eliminate delay in the trial of alleged corruption cases; giving feedback to the Council on progress of cases in the designated courts; conduct background checks on judges selected for the designated courts; and evaluating the performance of the designated courts.”
The statement added, “It will be recalled that the Chief Justice of Nigeria in his speech at the Special Session of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to mark the commencement of the 2017/2018 Legal Year, emphasised the concerns expressed by members of the public on the very slow speed with which corruption cases were being heard or determined by the Court.
“Consequently, he directed all heads of courts to compile and forward to the Council, comprehensive lists of all corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.
“He also directed them to designate in their various jurisdictions one or more Courts, as Special Courts solely for the purpose of hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crimes cases.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Court of Appeal were equally directed to fix special date in each week for hearing and determining appeals from such cases.”