Ambode Inaugurates Special, Sexual Offences Courts in Lagos

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has inaugurated four special courts to solely try corruption, economic crimes and sexual offences.

Speaking at the ceremony, which was held at Rosaline Omotoso High Court Complex, Ikeja, yesterday, Ambode charged judges to dispense justice fairly and speedily.

Represented at the event by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, the governor described corruption as “a major challenge to the sustainable development in the state,” which must be fiercely combated.

He stressed that Lagos has keyed into the federal government’s drive to root out corruption, promising that the state would assist in the expeditious prosecution of corruption cases.

The governor believed that the creation of the special courts would assist in the expeditious prosecution of economic and financial crimes and ensure that justice is attained by bringing offenders to justice without delay.

He said it was proper to classify Lagos, of over 20 million population as one of the most populous cities in the world and indeed the economic and financial capital of Nigeria and by extension West Africa.

The governor said this was why the courts are being designated special courts to focus primarily on effective prosecution of these cases.
“These courts are an indication of our commitment at making Lagos uncomfortable for perpetrators of such offences and our judiciary, that has always led the vanguard at combating crimes in its own way, is resolved to discourage same,” Ambode added.

Earlier in her welcome address, the state Chief Judge, Justice Opeyemi Oke, said the setting up the special courts was in obedience to the directive given last year by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for all heads of courts in the country to create special courts for the speedy trial of corruption cases.

Justice Oke said there were no fewer than 500 financial crimes and 600 sexual offences currently pending before the Lagos State High Court, most of which had now been transferred to the special courts for expeditious hearing.

The chief judge said the judiciary shares in the concern of President Muhammadu Buhari that most of the corruption cases filed under his administration had at best moved at snail’s pace.

“We in Lagos State and the Lagos State Judiciary in particular, have taken the bull by the horns and implemented the CJN’s directive by designating four courts as special offences courts to hear corruption and financial crime cases.

“We believe strongly that the special courts shall fast-track the trial of these types of cases and encourage the EFCC and other relevant bodies like the ICPC to expedite the investigation and prosecution of such cases.

“Presently, there are over 500 cases of financial crime pending before the high court, the bulk of which have now been assigned to the Special Offences Courts,” she said.

Justice Oke described sexual harassment and violence as serious threats and grave danger to women and children all over the world and a crime that has become an epidemic.
In her remarks, the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, said the courts would make access to justice easier and faster for our people.

Mrs. Osinbajo decried the rising cases of rape and domestic violence and commended Lagos Chief Judge for the creation of special court to try the perpetrators.

“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,” Osinbajo said.

Present at the inauguration were the wife of the Lagos State governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice M.I. Garba, who represented the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachukwa, Lagos State Solicitor General, Mrs. Funmilola Odunlami, who represented the state Attorney General, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem.