THE decision of the National Judicial Council to set up special courts to handle corruption and financial crime cases has the icing on the cake in the creation of a special committee to monitor the trials. A retired President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami, heads the 15-member panel that will carry out this critical national assignment. Its work is well cut out with treasury looters’ habitual practice of putting a spanner in the works when prosecuted.
No fewer than 43 high-profile cases filed in various courts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and 400 others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, will be monitored. They include cases against 16 former governors, most of whom left office in 2007. Besides monitoring, the committee will also conduct background checks on the judges that will head the designated courts and evaluate their performance; advise the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, on how to eliminate delay in the trials; and give the NJC a progress-chart of the trials.
Salami’s choice as the committee’s chairman has been widely hailed because of his antecedents. It was his principled stance against the bid by the powers-that-be to corrupt an election petition trial in a Court of Appeal division in the North that led to his untimely exit from service.