BETWEEN November 2017 and November 2019, more men, than women have been prosecuted for corruption offences in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja , a report by a non-governmental organisation, the Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative has shown.
According to the report of a survey of 79 cases monitored by the organisation at the FCT High Court and Magistrate Court, 72 per cent of defendants involved in corruption offences were male while majority of cases in which defendants were female were cases related to murder, manslaughter and kidnapping which stood at 20 per cent.
The report of the two-year study was made public by the organisation which is also known as Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN) during an event organised to marked this year Anti-Corruption Day.
It identified corruption-related offences to include-Advanced fee fraud, obtaining money under false pretenses, fraudulent receipt of money from government agencies and parastatals, cyber fraud, forgery and diverting and misappropriating of government funds.
The research was conducted under the heading: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in the Judicial Sector project, supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
It stated that “100 per cent of defendants involved in road traffic and environmental offences and offences relating to the state (rioting, breach of peace and sedition) are male.”
“The observation also revealed that majority of cases in which accused persons are female are cases related to murder, manslaughter and kidnapping (20 per cent.)
In the breakdown of the type of cases monitored, the report also showed that 44 per cent of cases observed at the High Court were corruption cases, 24 per cent offences relating to property other than corruption, 11 per cent murder, manslaughter or kidnapping, 16 per cent offences relating to the body other murder and 11 per cent other criminal cases.
At the Magistrate courts, 27 per cent of the cases are corruption cases including offences such as criminal breach of trust and cheating, 33 per cent offences relate to property other than corruption, and 6 per cent offences relate to the body other than murder.
Speaking during the unveiling of the report, Kemi Okenyodo, Executive Director PWAN said that the prosecution and conviction of corrupt government officials was a major pivotal point in the judicial system that helped to restor the public’s belief in the rule of law.
“The 2018 sentencing of former governors of Taraba and Plateau states, Reverend Jolly Nyame and Chief Joshua Dariye on corruption-related offences heralded a shift in the anti-corruption fight, especially as it affects embezzlement of public funds,” Okenyodo said.
“The most recent sentencing of Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State and the current Chief Whip of the 9th Senate also lends credence to this and emphasises zero tolerance for corruption in public office,” she added.
However, PWAN based on its observations said that agencies responsible for prosecuting corruption-related matters- Economic Financial Crimes Corruption (EFCC), Independent Corruption Practices Commission (ICPC), and Nigeria Police Force are responsible for delays in corruption-related matters.
“They request for the most adjournments in cases of this nature and take a longer time to close their case.”
It also revealed that it takes a relatively shorter time to process bail in corruption cases at 100 days and 129 days compared 190 days and 476 days it takes in other criminal matters.
The organisation in its report revealed that 50 per cent of the corruption cases monitored were struck out.
While proffering solutions to the identified hindrances, the Initiative recommended effective prosecution of anti-corruption cases, the prompt arraignment of defendants, discharge of duties by parties and representatives, as well as alternatives to prison sentencing according to the section 445-459 and section 460-466 which provide for probation, and community service.
The research results were drawn from 13 high courts and 17 Magistrate Courts in Apo, Maitama, Mpape, Jabi, Gudu, Lugbe, LifeCamp, Dutse-Alhaji, Wuse and Gwagwalada.