By Innocent Anaba
For corruption to be brought to its kneel in Nigeria, there is a need for a more holistic and deeply thought -out strategic approach than hitherto misconception that the only method of fighting the malaise is through the criminal justice option.
This was the views of former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC and retired Supreme Court justice, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, and other stakeholders at the yearly lecture of PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors with the theme:”Anti Corruption and Bribery Laws: Extra Territorial Application and Lessons For Business and Government Agencies” .
Justice Ayoola, who chaired the lecture in Lagos, said Nigeria must be ready to revise and reform its legal framework in relation to the fight against corruption to facilitate results in the campaign against corruption and engender inclusive and popular fight.
He noted that though Nigeria’s perception of the fight corruption was strong in sentiment and emotion, it was abysmally weak in action.
According to him, the fight against corruption will take longer to win if at all levels of society, a lip-service is paid to the fight.
On the efficacy of ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in fighting corruption in Nigeria, Justice Ayoola, said evaluation of the performance of these two agencies will certainly not fit comfortably without constant assessment of their performances.
According to him, the strategies of fighting corruption in Nigeria must not remain static and agencies set up to fight such must keep up with whatever becomes a developing trend, since the modalities and strategies of criminality do not remain static but rather are becoming more sophisticated.
Justice Ayoola, who did not support calls for the merging of the two anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, said the fight against corruption in a developing country as ours, must be a running battle, which makes the commitment of resources to the fight and steadfastness in the course of the campaign not only imperative but urgent.
The jurist noted that there was no doubt that Nigeria shares the concern expressed by the international community in the United Nations Convention against Corruption about the seriousness of problem and threat posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardising sustainable development and the rule of Law.
The guest lecturer and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Prof Mariana Mota Prado, who led discussion on the theme, solicited for institutional multiplicity in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, because of its inherent benefits, which she said include, competition, compensation, collaboration and complementarity.
She noted that multiplicity of institutions against corruption had paid off in Brazil and could be useful for a country like Nigeria.
According to her, though, it might be costly and appears to be a duplication of efforts, it could engender competition among the agencies to do a good job.
Prof Prado cautioned on the call for strengthening the agencies in Nigeria, saying such moves could back fire if not handled with care.
She made a case for special courts to handle corruption cases, but such court should work with regular courts in handling corruption cases to engender competitions.
Earlier, the senior partner of PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors, Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN had said the topic of the 2015 lecture was carefully selected in the light of resurgence of momentum towards elimination of corruption and bribery in conducting business and public activities.