Judge Blames EFCC For Delay Of Cases


Justice Abubakar Umar of Abuja High Court, has blamed the EFCC for the delays in the disposal of criminal cases it instituted against corrupt officials.


Umar, who expressed the view on Thursday, said counsels handling various cases for the anti-graft agency were responsible for the slow disposal of the cases through their incessant requests for adjournments at the slightest instance.


The judge’s reaction, followed the request by the counsel to the EFCC, Sylvester Tahir to adjourn a case involving a Lebanese and his son, who were standing trial for alleged forgery of some Federal Government documents.


The accused, Jihad Ghraizi (57) and Mohammed Ghraizi (27) are standing trial on a 14-count charge of conspiring to forge four different documents, two of them belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria, between December 1999 and June 2008, while presenting same as original copies.


The offence is contrary to sections 97, 363 and 364 of the Penal Code.


The accused persons were also alleged to have forged documents of the Ministry of Interior to fraudulently secure 60 percent shares of Madeni Construction Company Limited, contrary to sections 97, 363 and 364 of the Penal Code.


Counsel, to the EFCC, Sylvester Tahir, who was supposed to cross-examine a handwriting expert, DSP Ayodele Olufemi, sought for adjournment to enable him read the report of the expert and “prepare” himself.


When the judge asked Tahir to come back on Friday, March 9, to cross-examine the witness, the EFCC counsel told the court that he would be travelling to Jos for other cases.


Not happy with the request, Umar, wondered why the EFCC would be asking for special courts to try corruption cases, when it was essentially contributing to the slow dispensation of its cases in the regular courts.

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“The EFCC will be the same to run to press and complain that the judiciary is responsible for the seeming delays in disposal of cases.


“I told you to come back tomorrow and cross-examine the witness. You are now telling me you will be travelling.


“Are you the only lawyer in the EFCC? Can’t the EFCC send another counsel to cross-examine a witness?


“By the way, this is not your witness. It is the accused’s witness.


“The public will not understand that EFCC is responsible for the slow disposal of corruption cases. It will blame the delay on the judiciary,” he said.


Earlier, the accused’s counsel, Suleiman Yakubu, had opposed the application for an adjournment as requeted by the EFCC, saying there was no reason for it.


Yakubu said the prosecution needed not to study the reports of the handwriting expert before cross-examining him.


Umar, who said that he was reluctantly adjourning the case to Monday, April 2, ordered the prosecution not to come with applications for adjournment again.

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