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Nigeria anti-graft commission too slow, says judge

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 14 Jun 2011 16:54 GMT
Author: George Fominyen
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DAKAR (TrustLaw) - One of Nigeria’s top judges says the country’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), should be blamed for delays in people being prosecuted and convicted for corruption charges, the Champion newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the Federal High Court in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, said the EFCC does not gather its evidence properly before arraigning people and regularly amends the charges against the suspects, giving room to delays.

“Any time you amend a charge, the court will have to start all over again, "Auta said.

"I will suggest that before arrest is made, everything is concluded. The moment the person is charged to court, or his liberties are breached, the facts to try him should be already there,” he said during a visit to the headquarters of the EFCC, the paper reported.

For years, Nigeria has struggled with a reputation of being one of the world's most corrupt countries, ranking at the bottom of various corruption-related indices.

The country's authorities have set up several legal and administrative frameworks to combat corruption, including the EFCC, but analysts say prosecution of the many high-level arrests made by the institution is slow. 

"When the public tries to analyse the slow pace of the trial of high profile cases in comparison to the quick determination of small offenders, they tend to blame the EFCC," said Farida Waziri, the head of the EFCC.

Waziri said the commission has more than 65 high profile cases in various courts across Nigeria, some of which have been pending for more than four years. A high record of convictions would serve as a warning to others wanting to commit acts of corruption, she added.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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