The President of the Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS), Comrade Mashood Erubami has stated that the forfeiture of properties to the Federal Government by persons indicted in corruption cases is not enough to wage an effective war against corruption.
Erubami, who is also the Executive Director Centre For Human Rights and Ethics in Development (CHRED), stated this in a press statement issued on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption as the world observed the International Anti-corruption Day on December 9.
Read the statement below:
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI CANNOT FIGHT CORRUPTION ALONE, WITHOUT STRONGLY ENFORCEABLE LAWS AND SUPPORT OF NIGERIANS.
Since year 2003 when the United Nation Convention against corruption has become an International document being celebrated every year, no tangible achievements have been made to reduce its immunities in African and Nigeria in particular. Successive African leaders have made appreciable efforts to fight this cancerous abnormality in the system of government and among the Politicians and Civil Servants. In Nigeria there is no government that gas not indicated desires to fight the course of Corruption but because dye leadership and character if integrity are lacking, it has been an uphill task to root out endemic corruption from government.
Nuhu Ribadu, the first chairman of the EFCC under President Olusegun Obasanjo did his best and passed the baton to Mrs Waziri who surrendered to corruption fight backs under President Jonathan. Eversince the Ibrahim Magu regime in the EFCC has been very tumultuous since he took up the mantle under President Muhammadu Buhari as his relation with the eight National Assembly was that of an “eye for an eye” The fight against corruption had been on but without achieving spectacular milestone.
Nigeria today is joining the World to celebrate the 16th Anniversary of the Convention against Corruption, it is imperative that we reflect over the struggles against its menace, discuss its problems and define new ways to move forward.
This year’s commemoration is coming in the fifth year in office of President Buhari who has made the fight against corruption a key mantra of his government. It therefore behoves on every patriotic Nigeria to be a part of the team that will propagate the ideas behind the adoption of the convention, state the state of the anti corruption war and restates its impediments.
As President Buhari once said: “The fight against corruption “is a struggle for nation building and the future generation.” At the same time, Corruption and Impunity grow when accountability is disregarded and people get away with all manner of questionable things and accountants are unable to check them”
In the above sense, the many instances of cabinet members and people in the executives disobeying and committing offences against the laws, presupposes that there is a necessity for strong laws which must be put in place to fight against corruption.
No one will practice corruption if nobody in government practices it, prosecution will be non selective if people in government, its law enforcement agencies, the Armed forces, anti corruption agencies, political officeholders and people in the APC and other Parties and Legislators commit crimes and they are prosecuted accordingly.
It is not enough to forfeit properties traced to corruption acts, anybody found to be corrupt must be prosecuted, deprived of his or her loot and when convicted must serve a jail term as prescribed by law. This is when the offences of corruption is cleaned.
A government that commits crimes and supports corruption cannot be friendly and cannot be the government that people voted for to change their bad conditions because such government will not track and prosecute crimes. In fact, the provisions of law against reckless governance cannot be meaningful and all attempts to make sense of the law to be enforceable will become difficult and tenuous.
Recognizing the above scenarios, stakeholders must assume their critical historical roles to fight corruption to its roots. It will be difficult for other Presidents coming after President Buhari in 2023 to succeed in winning the war against corruption if the good legacy of the war is not well cemented NOW. Corruption is our greatest enemy and has started to fight back, all stakeholders must therefore continue to fight until the impunity of corruption is buried to effect a change to our value system.
To fight corruption to its roots, the government must foremost provide the desired leadership, making its police, Armed forces and political office holders obey all the laws against unethical practices.
The anti corruption laws must be strengthened and made applicable to every one and obeyed by every one.
President Buhari is advised without further hesitation to sign the audit reform bill which sought to empower the auditor-general to surcharge and withhold emoluments of any officer culpable of the loss of value in public treasury and refusal to respond to audit query; and power to summon any officer and put the same under oath.
In fact, the “next level” government must strive to wipe out the slate of consistent commission of corrupt practices from government and begin to take very tough punitive actions that will stop government from laying bad precedents of unethical practices which tramples on human rights and liberties of the people and build government into tyrants.
Corruption not prosecuted and punished becomes transferable, breeds contempt for law and attracts people to further commissions of the crimes.
The Legislature must regig it’s Public Accounts Committee to become better responsible and commence the immediate review of all the reports from the auditor-general and set it for public gearing on the way forward so as not to remain on the shelves without acting on them. The Public Accounts Committee has the constitutional function to carry out the above duties as stated in section 85(5).
“The Auditor-General shall, within ninety (90) days of the receipt of the Accountant-General’s financial statement, submit his reports under this Section to each House of the National Assembly and each House shall cause the reports to be considered by a Committee of the House of the National Assembly responsible for Public Accounts”. S. 85(5).
In Nigeria, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is the only Standing Committee of the Legislature established by the Constitution. Sections 85(5) and 125(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states:
Lawyers and Members of the Bench must join hands with the government to fight corruption by deliberately avoiding judicial bribery and not allowing arrangements monetary or otherwise in the course of adjudication to secure pre-determined judgments.
Finally, the Nigeria people must rise to stand against politicians exposed for corruption, stop celebrating thieves who got their money through fraudulent means and begin to join hands with the government to fight the current corruption fightbacks so that many more politicians and Civil Servants found to have committed fraud and corruption can be railroaded into prisons when convicted.
Nigerians must begin to stand against those who commit acts of corruption and stoutly resist the temptation to break its laws in any form and also ensure that Politicians and Civil Servants exposed of corruption do not go unpunished.