SANs frustrating corruption cases should be denied appearance in court – Sagay

Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay has said senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) frustrating high-profile corruption cases should be denied the right of appearance.

Sagay said this on Wednesday at a media roundtable organised by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in Lagos.

He said SANs have “turned obstruction and frustration of proceedings on high-profile corruption cases into an art.”

“In cases requiring appeal, the authorities must apply for leave to appeal out of time, and prepare evidence and legal arguments thoroughly, including by inviting consultants to advise,” he said.

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“Prosecuting authorities must insist on full application of sections 306 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, namely: No stay of proceedings under any circumstances – S. 306. Any preliminary objection must be taken together with the substantive issue – S. 396(2), and hearings shall be on a daily basis, but in exceptional cases, adjournments not to be in excess of 14 working days, may be granted. Such adjournments not to exceed five in any proceedings – S. 396 (3) and (4).

“A high court judge who is elevated whilst presiding over a criminal case should be allowed to conclude the case without any effect on his new status.

“The heads of various courts in the country should be sensitised about the very critical nature of the fight against high-level official corruption to Nigeria’s development and the welfare of its peoples.

“Pending the establishment of a special crimes court for the whole country, criminal divisions should be created in the federal and state high courts. Specially vetted and selected judges, known for integrity and self-discipline should be posted to man such courts.

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“All suspected proceeds of crime should be placed under temporary forfeiture during the trial of a high-profile person. Prosecuting authorities should resort to non-conviction based asset forfeiture, where proof beyond reasonable doubt is difficult to achieve because of technicalities.”

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