May 23, 2024

A’Ibom CJ urges security agencies to regulate transfer of prosecutors

A’Ibom CJ urges security agencies to regulate transfer of prosecutors

Akpan Umoh, Uyo

The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot has urged relevant security agencies in the country to regulate properly the transfer of the Prosecuting Officers of Financial and Other Related Crimes Agencies to avoid delay of criminal matters in court.

Obot said this during an interactive session with the National Judicial Council Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (NJC COTRIMCO) with designated judges and the prosecuting officers of EFCC and ICPC at her conference room in Uyo on Thursday 

The chief judge said that the frequent transfers of prosecuting officers have contributed to delays in the prosecution of most of the criminal matters in the state.

“if the relevant authorities could regulate the transfers of these Prosecuting Officers such that when one is posted to Akwa Ibom, Abuja, Abia or any other state, he stays there for at least five or six years before being transferred, it will go a long way to hasten the process.

“Officers should stay long enough in a station to conclude matters they are prosecuting,” Obot said.

Justice Gabriel Etteh in his comments during the interactive session said that most of the prosecuting officers are often transferred in the middle of prosecuting matters.

Etteh added that by the time a replacement will be sent, a considerable time has been lost and the replacement in most cases would be nonchalant over the matter.

“My Lord, apart from the arbitrary transfer of the prosecutors, which is a big issue, some of these officers are not hardworking, I must say.

“Imagine an officer coming to a court just to ask for adjournment with flimsy excuses. This lack of enthusiasm from the prosecuting officers is frustrating prosecution of criminal matters, ” Etteh said

In his contribution, Justice Bassey Nkanang said the attitude of prosecutors of financial crime agencies most times makes judges to be at crossroads.

Nkanang stated that in most cases the prosecutors failed to show up for their cases, even after being served and the defence counsels would mount pressure on the Judge to terminate the case because of a lack of seriousness on the part of the prosecutor. 

He said striking out cases that touch on financial crimes would send a wrong signal, but when a matter is delayed in court, there is a tendency that it would be struck out.

In his response, the Chief Prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Takon Ndifon, said he has taken note of the complaints by the judges and would talk to his lawyers to make amends, especially in the aspect of alleged nonchalant attitude to cases.

Ndifon, however, accused the state government of stifling the agency from discharging its duties in the state.

He noted that the Akwa Ibom Government had secured a court injunction barring the agency from investigating any of the high-ranking officials suspected to be involved in financial crime.

“The State is against the EFCC and ICPC. The State Government has gotten a court injunction barring us from investigating their high-ranking officials.

“They are even the ones frustrating these matters from going to court, it’s not as if the monies when recovered would go into our pockets but to the State coffers, which would be used for development.

“If we are given free hands and allowed to investigate high-profile cases in Akwa Ibom that require investigation, we can sanitise the system, but how can we do that when there is an injunction? Though we have appealed that order. It’s still pending,” Ndifon said.

The Chairman of NJC COTRIMCO, Justice Abimbola Ladipo, said he had heard the prayers of each group and would channel them to the Council to take action.

Ladipo, however, called on the state Chief Judge to always have meetings with the judges and the prosecuting officers to know their problems and if there was a need, she should make a report.

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