The National Assembly has been asked to fast tract the various anti-corruption bills in order to strengthen the capacity of the relevant institutions in the fight against graft.
This was part of the resolution at the on-going 23rd anti-corruption Situation Room organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption group.
The participants urged the National Assembly to pass into law pending anti-corruption bills like the Proceed of Crime Bill, Whistleblower and witness Protection Bill, the Federal Audit bill, Public Interest Disclosure and Compliant Commission Bill among many others.
The communiqué issued at the end of the event and signed by HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said the speedy passage of the bills will strengthen the various anti-corruption agencies and empower Nigerians to hold public officials accountable.
‘The National Assembly is a strategic partner in the anti-corruption campaign. Passage of the pending anti-corruption bills is very important in institution building. HEDA and our local and international partners want to see these bills passed to broaden public participation in the anti-corruption campaign’ Suraju said.
The resolution at the end of the programme urged Nigeria to honour her obligations as State Party to United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAs on independence of the anti-corruption agencies.
The conference noted that a bad precedence was set in the process leading to the removal of the former EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, a development that violates existing international principles.
Speaking at the event, the MacArthur Foundation representative, Mr Dayo Olaide, said Nigerian authorities should ensure that recovered loots make impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians. The former President, West Africa Bar Association, (WABA) Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) said recovered stolen funds should be returned to the victim states and not to the federation account.
The representative of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Dr. Mustapha Musa, said the Bureau was not aware that files relating to asset declaration by the former Lagos State Governor, Mr Ahmed Bola Tinubu, were missing. He dismissed the insinuation saying that if indeed the files were missing, he was not aware. He said though he was not competent to speak for the CCB but that he was confident that the CCB has internal mechanism to ensure that every file has electronic alternatives.
Participants urged Nigeria to pay attention to other emerging forms of economic transactions like the use of crypto currency. It noted that the prosecution of corruption related cases is very slow which has prompted a new thinking in government circle for the introduction of special courts that will handle cases of corruption, terrorism, militancy with speedy efficiency.
‘For the anti-corruption combat to be more effective, there should be more cooperation among the anti-corruption agencies on the one hand and with non state actors like the civil society on the other hand. That while the Federal Government has shown some commitments to fighting corruption, the state and local governments have not shown any significant interest’ said the participants.
There were three presentations at the event on the Independence of the anti-corruption Agencies and implications for the fight Against Corruption, Nigeria’s International anticorruption commitments and the fight against corruption, progress made and the opportunities for further interventions, and Public and Citizen participation in the fight against Corruption, current issues and strategies for better Engagement. The three presenters were EFCC pioneer Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Akomaye, Head, TUGAR, Ms Lilian Ekeanyanwu and Actionaid Country Director, Ms. Ene Obi.
The conference reviews the pathetic post-colonial state of Nigeria characterised by corruption in the public and private sector with danger signals in the form of poverty, declining provision of the essentials of life by the government, decreasing values placed on human lives, coupled with the new tide of violence and terrorism that grip the country and hold her citizens in awe.
The anti-corruption Situation room held in Abuja is one in a series of anti-graft dialogue organised by HEDA Resource Centre with the support of Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and MacArthur Foundation.
The programme, with Keynote Address delivered by Professor Sadiq Raddah, Secretary of PACAC drew participants including the Director, Action Aid Nigeria, Ms Ene Obi, Head, TUGAR, Ms Lillian Ekeanyawu, pioneer Secretary of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr Emmanuel Akomaye , Mr Femi Falana, (SAN), representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB), United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, (UNODC) MacArthur Foundation, the National Assembly, labour, media and civil rights organisations