The Director of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. A.O. Okaro, has said that the agency is being hindered in handling the prosecution of a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili.
He said, “The question of charging suspects to court under 72 hours in a system such as the one, in which we operate is simply impossible; it is not feasible because even when we strive to achieve such targets, we are constantly bogged down by an inefficient judicial system.”
Okaro, who disclosed this at a seminar on the reporting of money laundering in Abuja, further noted that the bureaucracy involved in filing charges at the courts was affecting the operations of the commission.
Okaro said, “The commission is currently investigating over 2,000 cases and most of these cases have been stalled due to the inefficiency in the nation’s judicial system.
“We have achieved over 200 convictions for economic and financial crimes and we usually have a turnaround period of six months on most of these convictions, and our lawyers have had to work overtime to get some of these prosecutors on their feet.”
He said the rule of law should be applied in a flexible manner in order to address peculiar situations in the fight against corruption.
“It is getting impossible to even prosecute some of the cases we have, because of the insistence on the rule of law,” he said.
He noted that Odili’s case had been stalled for months because of an inefficient judicial system.
He added that it was worrisome that nothing had been done about it.
“We are afraid that if we continue to strictly abide by the rule of law, crime will flourish in our land, and we may end up losing this country to a cabal of powerful individuals who have what it takes to exploit the system,” he said.
– The Punch