Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, yesterday, said the trial of former Governor James Ibori in the UK alone cost the British taxpayers £14 million (about N3.6billion).
He spoke at the Valedictory Court Session organized to mark his retirement from the bench after 33 years career as a judge. He was called to the Nigerian Bar as a lawyer in 1968.
Quoting a report, Justice Musdapher revealed that £14 million was spent to investigate and prosecute convicted Delta Governor, James Ibori,.
He said such huge expenses to investigate crime might be part of the reasons for the slow pace of investigation and prosecution of such cases in Nigeria.
Besides, he lamented that the number of charges filed by anti corruption agencies make it cumbersome to prosecute.
On the cause of delay, Justice Musdapher said “ the sheer volume of cases being handled by individual judges ensures that their cause lists are unduly choked”.
“To make matter worse, many of the Judges involved in corruption cases had to be away on National assignment at the various Election Petition Tribunal across the country and could not sit and dispense with the cases during that period.
“The Prosecutory Agencies often times arrest and charge alleged offenders before concluding investigations and as such they are largely unprepared for trial.
“Defence lawyers have perfected strategies of stalling the trial process via filing pointless interlocutors appeals. Which situation further underscores the need to hasten our plans to amend the relevant sections of the Constitution and other statutory laws calculated to block unjustified invocation of the Right of Appeal.
“It is hoped that these challenges shall be addressed as quickly as possible to ensure that the judiciary play its necessary role in curbing corruption in Nigeria.”
Justice Musdapher canvassed an independent body to deal with issues of discipline and removal of judicial officers as the National Judicial Council (NJC) is overwhelmed.
The NBA boss lamented that government has not been able to rise to the security challenges poised to the country.
“There has been a palpable failure to protect the lives of Nigerians by the State from internal strife or external aggression. Where the latter is the case, Nigerian State is entitled to proceed on hot pursuit of the aggressors and murderers of our people even as far as into other sovereign territories.
“However, none of the foregoing has happened to restore the faith of Nigerians in the ability of Government to provide safety and security. Nature abhors a vacuum. Government must take decisive steps to remedy this alarming state of insecurity.”
On the situation in the judiciary, the NBA boss pointed out that there is gross indiscipline among judicial officers, age falsification while a few are sick and begging for attention while still on the job
“A number of Heads of Courts are faced with very sick judicial officers; these officers are afflicted with varying debilitating medical conditions that completely impair their ability to perform judicial functions. These include loss of eye sight, hearing, terminal physiological ailments, chronic contagious diseases etc.
“ In most cases, these officers remain on the Bench doing no work for years and collecting their salaries and perquisites without fail. It is time that strict rules must be devised to expeditiously through appropriate Medical Boards of Assessment determine the state of health and ability of such sick non performing judicial officers to continue in judicial service.
“The retention out of sympathy of these sick officers blocks the way for young aspiring persons to fill the vacancy. Their certification as being unfit owing to ill health does not mean that they would be left to die in penury and neglect. The new Rules must make it mandatory for the health and welfare of these ill judicial officers to be borne by the State.