Lagos, Nigeria inaugurates special courts for sexual offences, financial crimes
Lagos, Nigeria. Jan. 1, 2018 (AltAfrika)-In a bid to ensure speedy dispensation of justice, Lagos State Government on Thursday inaugurated four special courts solely for the prosecution of sexual offences and corruption cases.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that two courts will adjudicate on special offences (economic and financial crimes), while the two others will try sexual offences.
The Sexual Offences Court is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was among dignitaries who attended the inauguration.
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, while inaugurating the courts, lauded the Chief Justice of Nigeria for initiating it at the federal level.
He noted that the establishment of the courts would facilitate expeditious hearing and trial of sexual and financial related crimes.
Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Oluranti Adebule, said Lagos was collaborating with the British Council under the Rule of Law Anti-Corruption Programme to provide technical support for the anti-corruption fight.
“The state collaborates with such agencies charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences by providing an enabling environment in terms of responding to inquiries and providing information to anti-graft agencies.
“I am particularly glad about the designation of two courts to handle sexual related offences as it complements our fight against sexual abuse.
“These sexual offences courts will have trained and experienced prosecutors to interact with survivors, provide support and ensure timely prosecution of the cases,” he said.
Ambode, who reeled out statistics of the sexual crimes handled by the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre in Lagos, announced that the state government had awarded a contract for the expansion of the DNA and Forensic Centre.
“Between 2015 and now, the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre have handled over 400 cases of sexual offences while 376 cases are being prosecuted in the various courts.
“With a dedicated court now in place to handle these cases, l am sure that these cases will get the attention they deserve.
“We have awarded the contract for the expansion of the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre and Chemistry Section.
“This will automatically place Lagos as one of the leading centres for forensics in Africa,” Ambode said.
The wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Oludolapo Osinbajo, in her speech, commended the Lagos State Government for establishing the Sexual Offences Court.
She said: `The statistics quoted by the Chief Justice of Lagos is very frightening, it only speaks of half of the true picture.
“Behind the figures are the faces of the affected women and girls as well as the men and boys.”
Giving examples of real life scenarios of sexual violence, Osinbajo said the victims of such offences should never be ignored.
“We should not ignore the trauma and nightmare that sexual offences bring, let us not forget the girls not only in Nigeria but all over the world.”
In an address of welcome, the Chief Judge of Lagos , Justice Opeyemi Oke, recalled that the journey toward the establishment of the Special Courts started in June 2017 in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“In the speech marking the second anniversary of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration, His Excellency, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo announced plans by the Federal Government to designate specific courts to handle corruption cases.
“He said that the courts would be part of a general judicial reform to make the judiciary more efficient and to facilitate the determination of corruption and financial crime cases.
“Soon thereafter, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen during the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria to 29 senior lawyers in Abuja in September 2017, announced major reforms in the criminal justice system.