..Urges them to avoid Undue Publicity
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate, yesterday called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent, Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and other anti- graft agencies to expedite actions in exposing as well as prosecute cases of corruption.
According to the Senate, these agencies should be more professional in carrying out their responsibilities, even as it congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari who was honoured as African Champion on anti-corruption by the African Union(AU).
The Senate has also asked the agencies to avoid what it termed, undue publicity in order not to compromise the strength of evidence that could be presented to secure conviction in judicial proceedings, just as it emphasised that it was the best way to institutionalise the fight against corruption, while make it enduring.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a point of Order by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North.
In his presentation, Utazi, said, “the essence of raising this order is to reinstate total support and partnership of the National Assembly to the fight against corruption in Nigeria. As we mark this day may Africa win the fight against corruption so that we can continue on a path of wholesome transformation of the continent.
“We may recall that African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption was adopted on July 11, 2003 in Maputo Mozambique. Consequently, the Executive Council of the African Union designated July 11 of every year as the African Day against Corruption much like the United Nations dedicated Dec. 9 of every year as International Anti-Corruption Day.
“It has estimated that every year about 1trillion dollars is paid in bribes while an estimated 2.6 trillion is stolen annually through Corruption which is an equivalent of more than five per cent of the global GDP.”
Senator Utazi who decried that funds traced to corruption in Africa were in the form of fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery, extortion, forgery and embezzlement, said that other forms of corruption were kick backs, tax evasion, public funds diversion, criminal multiple taxation, contract inflation and abandonment, obtaining by false pretence, gratification and criminal patronage.
According to him, favouritism, nepotism and other forms of corruption are so massive that it is better imagined what could have been achieved if the funds are not stolen, adding, “In recognition of the worrisome nature of corruption in Africa as a major hindrance to development and stability in the continent.
“The Assembly of Africa Union in 2017 declared 2018 the African Anti-Corruption under the theme, ” Winning the fight against Corruption, a Sustainable path to African transformation.
“The ultimate objective is to have an Africa that is corrupt free, Nigeria that is corrupt free, citizen driven and democratically governed. Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria the poverty and misery it imposes on he citizenry are depressing. Africa is at a critical point to take its rightful place in the comity of nations.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who stressed the need for all hands must be on deck to fight corruption.
Ekweremadu who hailed Utazi for coming up with the point of order, said that the fight against corruption must not be selective nor subject to media trial and unnecessary drama.
Ekweremadu said, “Because he came under Order 43, it is not open to debate. We thank Sen. Utazi for bringing this up and for the work himself and his committee is doing to ensure that the fight against corruption remains focused.
“I believe that all of us and every responsible citizen of Africa will continue to support the government of the respective countries to ensure that they have legislations and processes to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.”
Ekweremadu who noted that the National Assembly continue to pass laws that would support the fight against corruption, said, “I am happy to announce that the NFIU Bill has been signs into law. So this is a good development to us as a country.
“It is this parliament that passed the law that set up the EFCC, ICPC, and we will continue to do that. We must however make sure it is not a tool for fighting political enemies and we must ensure that the fight is efficient and effective.”