Transparency Int’l rating a wake-up call – ICPC

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Caleb  Ayansina
ABUJA—Chair-man, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, weekend, admonished Nigerians to see the recent rating of Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations in the world by Transparency International, TI, report as a wake up call, which should not dampen enthusiasm towards the anti-corruption war.

Nta gave the advice in Kaduna, just as Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said the country’s poor rating by TI in its 2012 Corruption Perception Index, CPI, has shown as an empty boast the Jonathan presidency’s claim that corruption had gone down under its watch.

Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on its part identified corruption as the greatest problem facing the country, insisting that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and ICPC have fallen “short of the standards and requirements of an effective anti-corruption regime.”

The ICPC boss gave the admonition at the inauguration of ICPC’s National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corp, NAVC,Kadunachapter. He called on Nigerians to develop a new mindset in the anti-corruption war.

Speaking through a member of ICPC, Alhaji Abdullai Ado-Bayero, the ICPC boss said the commission had embarked on a number of preventive strategies and initiatives, among which was the establishment of NAVC.

Nta said the ICPC established NAVC nationwide four years ago to domicile the fight against corruption with the people and enlighten them to see corruption as anathema.

He said: “We should all be involved in the struggle to stamp out corruption. A situation where the battle is seen as government business alone is not good for sustainability of the crusade.”

ACN reacts

In a statement issued inIlorin, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, ACN expressed concern at the negative impact corruption was having on the country’s economy and the image of the country.

ACN said if left unchecked, corruption was capable of bringingNigeriadown even ahead of the slow intensity warfare and general insecurity in the country.

ACN said the “harvest of corruption scandals” that have dogged the Jonathan administration was unprecedented in the country’s history, and that this had been attested to by the global anti-corruption body in its latest CPI.

The party said: “Sadly, despite the presidency’s self-delusion,Nigeriaremains among the most corrupt nations on earth. According to the latest CPI, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and one of the continent’s biggest economies, was not listed among the top 35 least corrupt nations in Africa, even when it is ranked the 35th most corrupt nations in the world!

“It is also instructive that Liberia and Sierra Leone, which Nigeria helped to liberate from the throes of war, are now doing much better in fighting corruption than the Nigeria, just like much smaller and less-endowed nations like Niger, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Mali are better rated.”

EFCC, ICPC has failed— NBA

Meanwhile, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, lamented that the issue of corruption had led to loss of confidence inNigeriaby its citizens both at home and abroad due to the activities of “fraudsters, corrupt public officials and mis-governance by our leaders.”

NBA further expressed regret that “on the international scene,Nigeriahas been blacklisted as a state in which integrity and transparency are alien and where no transactions occur without greasing of palms.”

National President of the legal body, Chief Okey Wali, who stated this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day, implored the Federal Government to rescind its decision to slash the 2013 budget of the EFCC by 50 percent, even as he urged the National Assembly to promptly pass the “Civil forfeiture Bill” pending before it to ensure all proceeds of corruption are forfeited.

He said: “There is no disputing the fact that corruption is the greatest problem of this country, whether it is lack of employment opportunities, power, health, petroleum product, security or insecurity, water or food.

“In spite of strategies put in place, little or no success has been achieved as these institutions fall short of the standards and requirement of an effective anti-corruption regime, as demanded by the anti-corruption conventions.”

“There is no clear-cut definition of role amongst these agencies, nor is there constructive collaboration between them and this has not helped the war against corruption.

“Institutional inadequacies and defective legal framework have also damaged the perception of Nigerians regarding the genuineness of the anti-corruption effort.”

Laying blames

It blamed Nigeria’s precarious position in the global anti-corruption battle on the fact that the Jonathan Administration has not only become corruption scandal-prone, it has also allowed impunity to thrive by paying only lip service to probing the scandals and bringing perpetrators to book.

Lists scandal

It said: “The massive oil subsidy scam, the Malabu oil scandal, the pension scam, and now the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting N2.1 billion scam are just a few of the corruption scandals that have dogged the Jonathan Administration.

“In all of these and more, the administration has show an amazing lack of political will in investigating the scams and prosecuting perpetrators.

“Worst still, key administration officials have shown from their careless comments that they either do not understand what it means to fight corruption or they are just trivialising it.

“One of such is Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was quoted as saying that Nigerians are unable to get petroleum products without stress because they demanded transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

“What the minister is saying, in essence, is that uninterrupted fuel supply, probity and accountability cannot go hand in hand; that Nigerians must choose between enjoying abundant fuel supply and a well-managed, corruption-free oil sector.

“In saner climes and with an administration that is committed to fighting corruption, such a minister will be long gone”

The party said amidst the glaring evidence of worsening corruption inNigeria, President Jonathan had continued to talk and act as if the country is in fact corruption-free, wondering what was responsible for the wide gulf between the President’s perception and the reality on the ground.

ACN said: “President Jonathan must wake from his slumber and face the reality that corruption is fast eating deep into the soul ofNigeria, having already decimated the body.

“He must stop playing the ostrich and lead the way in the fight against corruption before it consumes the country.”

EFCC, ICPC has failed— NBA

Meanwhile, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, lamented that the issue of corruption had led to loss of confidence inNigeriaby its citizens both at home and abroad due to the activities of “fraudsters, corrupt public officials and mis-governance by our leaders.”

NBA further expressed regret that “on the international scene,Nigeriahas been blacklisted as a state in which integrity and transparency are alien and where no transactions occur without greasing of palms.”

National President of the legal body, Chief Okey Wali, who stated this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day, implored the Federal Government to rescind its decision to slash the 2013 budget of the EFCC by 50 percent, even as he urged the National Assembly to promptly pass the “Civil forfeiture Bill” pending before it to ensure all proceeds of corruption are forfeited.

He said: “There is no disputing the fact that corruption is the greatest problem of this country, whether it is lack of employment opportunities, power, health, petroleum product, security or insecurity, water or food.

“All problems we face inNigeriacould be traceable one way or the other to corruption. The EFCC, ICPC and other anti-graft bodies were established to combat corruption at various levels.

“Sadly, in spite of these strategies in place, little or no success has been achieved in that direction as these institutions fall short of the standards and requirement of an effective anti-corruption regime, as demanded by the anti-corruption conventions.

“There is no clear-cut definition of role amongst these agencies, nor is there constructive collaboration between them and this has not helped the war against corruption.

“Institutional inadequacies and defective legal framework have also damaged the perception of Nigerians regarding the genuineness of the anti-corruption effort.”

Solutions to EFCC, ICPC’s inefficiency

“NBA is of the strong view that for the anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC, ICPC, to function effectively and efficiently, and achieve measurable results, they must be funded adequately.

“We seek no other satisfaction other than to ensure that EFCC is strengthened and not weakened by financial incapacity.

“Anti-corruption crusades are driven by independent and effective institutions and not individuals.

“NBA, therefore, states that what is required to fight corruption inNigeriais over-lapping institutions designed to ensure financial autonomy and effectiveness. Such institutions like EFCC must be equipped to be insulated from politics and political leaders who allocate funds at their whims and caprices.

“Such institutions must be controlled by the Rule of Law and must be designed to outlive the individuals that manage them.

“The move to slash the EFCC 2013 budget proposal by half is worrisome and unacceptable to the NBA. More so, when the 2013 budgetary allocations to other less important agencies are very high.”

“The NBA calls for a review of the existing anti-corruption legal framework especially in respect of anti-graft institutions. NBA calls for the enecatment of Proceeds of Crime Act to broaden the powers of the anti-graft agencies. This law will become the broad legal umbrella, under which the anti-corruption crusade is prosecuted.

“National Assembly should realize that the effort at building an enduring democracy cannot succeed in a regime of rapacious corruption, and that it should partner with anti-corruption agencies in realizing the mandate of zero-tolerance to corruption by passing ‘sunshine’ laws such as the ‘Civil forfeiture Bill’ pending before it to ensure all proceeds of corruption are forfeited. The NBA is concerned with the slow pace of passage of this bill into law, and shall therefore use our Legislative Advocacy Committee to push for its passage,” he added.

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