By Biodun Busari
Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has urged the Federal Government to give liberty and full autonomy to its main anti-graft agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in order to perform effectively.
This was made known in the statement signed by CACOL Chairman, Debo Adeniran to mark the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day on Friday.
The civil society organisation said other anti-crime agencies in Nigeria like the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should be given free hand to operate.
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While giving an analogy that China issues the death penalty for those who steal public money, CACOL advised FG that stiffer penalties should be handed to corrupt government officials and politicians who steal public funds.
“Although we don’t support the death penalty, corruption cannot be effectively defeated in the country when convicted criminals get minimum jail sentences, plea bargaining and a ‘go and sin no more’ verdict thereby having ample opportunity to enjoy their loots.”
It advised, “The various anti-corruption agencies must tidy up their investigations, ensure diligent prosecution of corruption cases and the judiciary must ensure that corruption cases are speedily and timely dispensed with.”
“Against this backdrop, we suggest that the major anti-corruption and other regulatory agencies (i.e EFCC, ICPC, NAFDAC, NDLEA, SON etc.) should be given full autonomy or independence by funding them from first line charge so that they would be removed from the control of various supervising Ministers who are politicians and who would want to protect their fellow politicians at all cost.
“Government should remove incentives that make corruption intractable problems like pardoning corruption convicts which are capable of demoralising investigators, witnesses, prosecutors and courageous judges who make convictions possible. Moreover, pardoned corruption convicts can also take revenge once they secure their freedom by going after investigators, witnesses, prosecutors and judges that convicted them.”
CACOL said President Muhammadu Buhari should be more thorough in his fight against corruption before he leaves office in a few months.
“We expect more firm actions from the president and that actually is missing in some instances. The use of state pardon to set convicted corrupt criminals free should be discontinued because a convicted Inasmuch as we want to appreciate the efforts of this administration in tackling corruption, we believe that more stringent penalties must be put in place and the judiciary must also cooperate to nip this shameful act in the bud in the country.
“We need to take a cue from other countries of the world that have taken the anti-corruption fight to the level whereby all their citizens know that there are grave consequences for any act of corruption,” CACOL added.
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