The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is far more prominent than any other prosecuting agency on the list of concluded financial crimes and corruption cases compiled by the National Judicial Council’s Corruption and Financial Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.
Our reporter in December 2018 obtained the list from the NJC following a request made on the strength of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
The list contained 297 cases, although the NJC in an official press statement on July 1, 2018 disclosed that the designated courts being monitored by COTRIMCO had delivered 324 judgments in the previous six months.
Also, the Chairman of COTRIMCO, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd.), said recently in Abuja that the work of the committee had resulted in judgments being delivered in at least 354 cases, which could have increased in number since then.
No explanation was offered for the shortfall in the number of the cases sent to The PUNCH.
The 297 cases contained in the list are from the courts in the three zones to which the COTRIMCO divided the various courts in the country into for ease of monitoring.
Out of the 297 cases, at least 175 of them are EFCC’s, as there are many cases on the list not credited to any prosecuting agency, and there are also many others bearing the generic ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ as the prosecuting body.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has at least 13 cases among the total 297 cases, while the police have five.
The number of the cases handled by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation cannot be ascertained as it only prosecutes in the name of the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ and its cases cannot be distinguished from those handled by other agencies such as EFCC and ICPC which have some of their cases credited to FRN.
The Zone A cases, which are 88 in number, are those from Abuja courts comprising the Supreme Court, the Abuja divisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court as well as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
In the zone, at least 25 of the 66 cases are EFCC’s, only two are credited to the ICPC, one to the police and 57 to ‘FRN.’
Three of the cases are not credited to any agency.
Zone B with 66 cases comprised cases from the various divisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court as well as the state High Courts in the North.
Of the 66 cases, at least 47 of them are handled by the EFCC while at least six by the ICPC, while about 13 are credited to ‘FRN.’
Zone C, which comprises the various divisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court as well as the state High Courts in the South, has 143 cases.
Of the 143 cases from the zone, Lagos State High Court accounts for 89 out of the 143 cases prosecuted in Zone C.
Of the 89 Lagos High Court cases, 58 of them are EFCC’s, two are ICPC’s and the rest 29 cases are not credited to any agency.
The CJN, in his capacity as the chairman of the NJC, inaugurated the Justice Suleiman Galadima-led COTRIMCO on November 1, 2017 mandating it to, among others, identify the causes of delays in corruption and financial crimes cases and recommend solutions.
The committee in April last year submitted its interim report to the NJC lamenting the delays being suffered by corruption and financial crimes cases.
In a statement by its Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, the NJC said the interim report of COMTRIMCO blamed the prosecution, the courts and prisons for the delays.
Oye said the committee’s interim report contained “findings from discussions with heads of courts and observations made from the surprise visits of the members to courts handling corruption and financial crime cases in some parts of country.”