President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has revealed how the Judiciary fast tracked the trial of former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu and others.
She said the judiciary was working to eradicate delay in criminal trials.
Justice Bulkachuwa spoke in Abuja at a workshop on: “Towards national minimum standards for effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJLs).”
The workshop organised by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) is meant to rally stakeholders in all states and at the Federal Government level for the development of basic or common minimum standards for the effective implementation of the ACJA and ACJLs)
“I was part and parcel of the making of the ACJA from inception. I have also witnessed its implementation.
“So, I was very much interested in what will come out of it. And, I had the chance to fully participate when applications were made by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), Federal Ministry of Justice and other prosecuting bodies, that our Justices, who were appointed from the High Courts, and elevated to the Court of Appeal, be given fiats to go back to the various High Courts and conclude the case they have started.
“First, we had to determine at what stage they could go in. After looking at the ACJA, we saw that once all the prosecution’s witnesses have testified, there will be no need to start the matter de novo (start afresh) again. We felt it was more in the interest of justice to have the matter completed.
“Most of the matters may be because they are not high profile cases, nobody heard about them. But, I have given fiats at least, more than 50 times, for Justices of the Court of Appeal to go back and complete their assignments.
“The most recent is that of Justice (Mohammed) Idris when he completed the case of former Governor Orji Kalu. But, before then, I think he has completed not less than 12 or 15 of such matters.
“I think this is a big plus for the Criminal Justice Act, because matters now get to be completed within the shortest time possible and decisively.”