Human Rights Group Urge FG To Fight Anti-graft War Through Credible Legislation

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By Walter Duru

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AFTER A TWO-DAY CIVIL SOCIETY ROUNDTABLE ON STRENGTHENING NIGERIA’S ANTI-GRAFT WAR THROUGH CREDIBLE LEGISLATION, ORGANISED BY THE MEDIA INITIATIVE AGAINST INJUSTICE, VIOLENCE AND CORRUPTION- MIIVOC, WITH SUPPORT FROM JUSTICE FOR ALL (DFID)

The Civil Society Roundtable on anti-corruption Bills, with the Theme: Strengthening Nigeria’s Anti-Graft War through Credible Legislation, was held at Denis Hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja, from the 3rd to 4thNovember, 2016. The meeting was put together by the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC and Development Measures, with support from the Justice For All.

The identified Bills are Proceeds of Crime Agency (POCA) Bill, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre (NFIC) Bill, Whistle Blowers Protection (WBP) Bill and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (MLA) Bill.

The aim of the Roundtable was to strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption war through credible legislation. Participants at the Roundtable were drawn from civil society groups and individuals, working on anti-corruption and good governance issues, as well as the media.

Presentations were made by Resource persons on ‘’Corruption, Anti-corruption and the Future of Nigeria’’, ‘’Whistle Blowers and Witness Protection: The Nigerian Experience’’, and ‘Anti-Corruption Legislation and the War Against Corruption’’.

OBSERVATIONS

After deliberations and contributions to the issues raised, participants made observations and recommendations on strategies, and means to strengthening the on-going anti-corruption war and make it more credible and effective.

  1. Participants welcomed the seeming resolve by the Federal governmentto more vigorously combat corruption and ensure that the commonwealth is committed to promoting national development and serving  public interest and the wellbeing of all Nigerians rather than the narrow and selfish interest of the privileged minority elites;

 

  1. That despite enormous efforts and resources committed to the fight against corruption, it has been more of motion without movement, sound and fury without the expected significant impact, as the number of convictions recorded and assets recovered so far is not proportionate to the enormity of efforts andthe propaganda accompanying it, while the few recovered assets are not deployed to serve public interest or even satisfactorily accounted for.
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  1. That whistle blowers and witnesses have remained endangered species in their patriotic efforts to contribute to the fight against corruption by reporting and exposing corruption; there is no legislation to protect whistle blowers and witnesses whose contributions to the fight against corruption are significant;

 

  1. Participants noted the widespread feelings and opinion that the on-going war against corruption is not comprehensive,and that it appears to target only a few rather than every corrupt persons and institutions in Nigeria and that there is a tendency to rationalise the side-tracking of the rule of law in the fight against corruption;

 

  1. Participants noted the role of certain institutions and sectors, particularly, the banking sector in sabotaging and frustratingthe fight against corruption by continuing to collude with corrupt persons in public and private sectors, and serving as conduits for illicit transactions and, siphoning and transfer of looted funds;

 

  1. That the legal framework for anti-corruption remains weak , making the anti-crime war more difficult and cumbersome and the efforts of civil society towards the passage of certainBills such as POCA, NFIC, WBP and MA Bills which will facilitate the fight against corruption have been hampered.

 

  1. That civil society community has not been united in effort around the passage of the bills; lack adequate knowledge of the contents and purpose of the Bills; and of law making processes, hamperingconstructive and effective engagement with the executive, legislature and other key stakeholders in the efforts to secure the passage of these Bills;

 

  1. That the media have not been effectively involved and utilised for the dissemination of provisions in the bills and, mobilisation of public opinion in favour of the anti-corruption Bills and the anti-corruption crusade.
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RECOMENDATONS:

  1. That the President and heads of anti-corruption agencies should be sensitive and responsive to public opinion on theadministration’s approaches to the anti-corruption war in other to enlist and enjoy public confidence and support and to enhance the legitimacy of the anti-corruption crusade

 

  1. That the anti-corruption war should be prosecuted comprehensively without fear or favour as only a credible and result oriented fightwill  guarantee public support and ensure that the commonwealth is made available to promote national development and serve the wellbeing of all Nigerians rather than the narrow and selfish interest of the privileged minority elites;

 

  1. That the on-going war against corruption needs to be prosecuted with respect for the Constitution and laws of the country, and without fear or favour.

 

  1. That the government should commit to the speedy passage of anti-corruption bills which will facilitate the fight,with a focus not only to securing convictions but also  ensuring the recovery and accountable use of recovered assets for common good as well as the protection of whistle blowers.

 

  1. That the fight against corruption be made more effective by strengthening the legal framework guiding the process through expeditious passage of all relevant new or pending bills into law; some of these Bills were passed by the7th National Assembly, but not assented to by the  President. Such Bills include POCA, NFIC, WBP and MA Bills.

 

  1. That civil society must unite, remain focussed and consistent, acquaint themselves with the contents and purpose of the Bills and collectively and constructively engage with both the executive and the legislature in the effort to see to the passage of these Bills; That Civil society should also be creative in cultivating principled relationships with members of the NASS without being partisan or co-opted.
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  1. That the role of the media in the fight against corruption is very crucial and Civil society must involve the media at every stage of the advocacy planning for their buy-in and effective dissemination of information and mobilisation ofpublic opinion in favour of the Bills and the anti-corruption crusade in general;

 

  1. That Nigerians should take deliberate steps to hold anti-corruption agencies, as well as public office holders accountable.

Signed:

Okechukwu Nwanguma- Chairman, Communique drafting Committee/ Network on Police

Reforms in Nigeria- NOPRIN

Walter Duru, Ph.D        – Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC

Lanre Suraj                      Civil Society Network against Corruption- CSNAC

Eze Eluchie                      PADDY Foundation

Emeka Ononammadu     Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights

Okoye Jacinta                  Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA)

Charles Erabor                            Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice- ANEEJ

Ozor Ugonna Kingsley     Development Measures

Anthony Ehilebo              Breaking Times

Olukayode Senbanjo       Confluence of Rights Nigeria

Patricia Samuels             Proactive Gender Initiatives

Nelson Nnanna Nwafor -Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development

Peter Oris                        Business Advocacy Group

Celestine Okeke              Micro Small Medium Enterprises Advocacy and Support Initiative

Don Morris Ovia             Rural People Network

Nicholas Kalu                  The Nation

Bassey Inyang                 This Day

Kingsley Opurum            Watch Dog News

walter-duru
Walter Duru
9News Nigeria contributor
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