THE Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Tanko Muhammad has faulted the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami for blaming the judiciary for delays in the trial of corruption cases involving politically exposed individuals.
Malami had during an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today,’ on Monday said the executive arm could not be held responsible for for the speedy adjudication of justice in cases like that of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal, whose trial at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory over alleged abuse of office had stalled.
“You cannot by any stretch of imagination, place blame associated with the conclusion and determination of the case on the doorsteps of the executive (arm of government). It is exclusively a judicial affair,” he said.
He said the government was applying the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), a legislative intervention to cure the teething problems of delayed criminal justice administration in the country.
The law makes provision for the day-to-day hearing of criminal cases.
Reacting, the CJN, in a statement, said Malami’s allegations were like giving a dog a bad name to hang it.
The statement, signed by the CJN’s spokesperson Ahuraka Isah, said, “More often than not, the Federal Government’s prosecution sector files more charges than it can prove or provide witnesses to prove,” which most times allows the cases to fail.
“The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, under reference is infected with sores in some parts, making speeding adjudications improbable in some instances, in addition to high volume of cases, limited number of judges, poor infrastructure or archaic equipment.”
Mohammed also faulted a statement made by the Federal Government in January that blamed lack of financial transparency for the under-funding of the judiciary.
Although the judiciary has refrained from joining issues with the Federal Government, he said it has been meticulous and transparent in its budget preparations and spending.
He said, “The judiciary defends its budget before the Senate and the House of Representatives committees on the judiciary at the National Assembly, besides the initial vetting by the executive.
“The judiciary has an internal mechanism for budget control and implementation. Each court and judicial body has a budget unit, the account department, internal audit, due process unit, as well as departmental tenders’ board.
“There is also a due process committee at the NJC and the Judicial Tenders Board that award contracts on expenditure above the approval limit of the accounting officers of the courts and judicial bodies.”