Want passage of Whistleblower, Witness Protection Bills
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Federal Government reassures Nigerians on fight against corruption, an anti-corruption watchdog, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ and eight Civil Society Organisations, Friday, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, for assenting to three Anti-corruption Bills.
Speaking on the development, Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, said Buhari signing the bills into law on Thursday, which are the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022; The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022; and the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022 was a welcomed development and boost to the fight against corruption in the country.
According to Ugolor, ANEEJ and its eight Civil Society partner organisations implementing the ‘Enhancing Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria’ project under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project of Palladium, supported by USAID are happy with the action of Buhari for signing the three anti-corruption Bills into law.
He said, “The passage of the Bills and their eventual assent by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday (Thursday) marks a significant milestone in strengthening the war against money laundering, terrorism financing and asset recovery in the country.”
It will be recalled that ANEEJ and its allies have been campaigning for the passage of POCA and other anti-corruption Bills for a long time coming.
However, the ANEEJ boss called on the National Assembly to consider passage of two other Bills which include Witness Protection Bill (2022); and the Whistleblower Protection Bill, (2022) into law.
He said the two Bills are cardinal in the fight against corruption, and it will make the fight more successful, and tasked NASS to pass them into law before end of Buhari’s tenure on May 29, 2023.
He also stressed that the two Bills are direly needed by citizens who are prepared to volunteer information to the anti-graft agencies and the judiciary, which they would complement the effectiveness of the three Bills signed by Mr President.
“Even though our quest to have a separate asset recovery and management agency was not achieved in the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), ANEEJ and its allies are prepared to work with the Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) to firm up assets management capabilities.”
Meanwhile, being a member of Board of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Coalition representing Sub-Saharan African CSOs, he (Ugolor) pointed that the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act will help crack down on Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). And other perpetrators of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) responsible for hemorrhaging the Nigerian public till.
Meanwhile lending voice to the issues, Executive Director of 21st Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative, Lukman Adefolahan, said, “We are happy that we are able to pull through with these three pieces of legislations and our focus will now shift to the enforcement of anti-corruption laws.
“By this development, Nigeria has met some milestones required by International Anti-corruption bodies, and it is now left for all stakeholders to go ahead with implementation.”
The Executive Director of the Joint Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD) Edo State Chapter, Ann Ojugo, commended members of the National Assembly, particularly, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker House of Representatives, the Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, for expeditious consideration of the Bills brought before them by the President.
“We expect that recovered assets should be used for development programmes that will help in poverty eradication. Persons With Disabilities should be carried along when such programmes are being conceptualized and implemented”, Ojugo pointed.