Forty-three high-profile corruption cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) between 2007 and 2015 are still pending in courts, the anti-graft agency said yesterday.
The cases include those involving 16 former governors.
The other pending matters are related to oil subsidy scandal, money laundering and violation of the Public Procurement Act.
However, the commission, according to an official document obtained by The Nation, was able to secure 125 convictions of other accused persons between January and September 2016.
Some of the pending high-profile cases are those preferred against ex-governors Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), the late Audu Abubakar (Kogi), Timipreye Sylva (Bayelsa), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Aliyu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa).
Other high-profile suspects on trial are ex-Minister Babalola Borishade; a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye; Sani Teidi Shuaibu and other pension scam suspects; Esai Dangabar and seven others over police pension fraud; Mamman Tukur and others on N1.2billion oil subsidy scandal; Walter Wagbatsoma in connection with oil subsidy; Abdullahi Alao and others (N2.6b oil subsidy scam); NASAMAN Oil Services Limited for N4billion oil subsidy case; Chidi Adabanya (N2b obtained from Shell Petroleum Development Company); and others.
The document indicated that the cases are on hold because of the following reasons: preliminary objection, trial within trial; interlocutory appeal at the Supreme Court, assigning of trial judges to election petitions tribunals, abuse of court process, illness of defendants, abscondment of accused persons, filing of fresh charges, and jumping of court bail among others.
The EFCC claimed that it has secured 125 convictions mainly on money laundering, criminal conspiracy, theft stealing, criminal breach of trust, forgery, and obtaining money by pretence.
The convictions were secured at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja and other zonal offices.
The breakdown is as follows: Abuja (24); Lagos (44); Kano (19); Port Harcourt (22); Enugu (13) and Gombe (3).
A top source said: “We have many high-profile cases in court since 2007. We are not talking of the 2016 cases on the arms scandal which have remained at preliminary stage.
“Apart from the cases of former governors, you will not believe that none of those implicated in the oil subsidy scandal has been successfully tried by the court.
“The defence has always come up with one application or the other. In the face of the law, the hands of the judges are usually tied because they cannot make extra-judicial pronouncements.
“Some judges have also not been helpful due to influence by accused persons and cultural constraints. This is why a case is being made for special court for anti-corruption cases.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Some of the assets of these accused persons have been put under Interim Forfeiture and if the cases are not heard expeditiously, they might depreciate.”
But the delay in trying cases has slowed down the anti-graft war in the country.
President Muhamadu Buhari had on July 18 raised the alarm about slow management of corruption cases by the court.
He said: The judiciary must fight delay of cases in court as well as fights corruption in its own ranks, perceived or otherwise.
“We expect to see less tolerance to delay tactics used by defense lawyers or even the prosecution in taking cases to conclusion.”
“So far, the corruption cases filed by government are not progressing as speedily as they should, in spite of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015, essentially because the courts allow some lawyers to frustrate the reforms introduced by law.”