ICYMI

May 2, 2024

50 CSOs to APC, PDP, others: Denounce your members facing corruption allegations

Tinubu’s lawyer’s plea inconsistent with academic claims, PDP insists

…Slam Tinubu for appointing ‘uncleared’ politicians

By Omeiza Ajayi

Fifty frontline Civil Society Organizations CSOs in the country have asked the ruling All Progressives Congress APC and other political parties to denounce their members who are currently facing corruption allegations, as a way of supporting the fight against corruption.

The CSOs also slammed President Bola Tinubu for exposing anti-corruption work to serious setbacks and deliberate sabotage by offering appointments to politicians who are facing corruption allegations.

Those who read the position of Nigeria’s civil society community at a news conference Thursday in Abuja were Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre CISLAC/ Transparency International Nigeria; Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow at Centre for Democracy and Development CDD; and, Mr Chido Onumah, Executive Director,  African Centre for Media and Information Literacy AFRICMIL.

“We urge the ruling All-Progressive Party APC and other political parties to take decisive action in purging its ranks by denouncing and breaking support with their members who are currently being investigated by anti-corruption agencies. This can be operationalised by suspending all members tainted by corruption allegations and ensuring they are held accountable before the law”.

“Procurement of political appointments by some suspected or investigated looters who are serving under the current administration as ministers, legislators, or occupying leadership positions of the ruling party, has exposed anti-corruption work to serious setbacks and deliberate sabotage that cripple the efficiency of the anti-corruption agencies.

“It is distressing to see people facing corruption allegations being appointed by the President to handle various positions of authority. Today, many serving lawmakers and ministers have corruption allegations against them. This is producing a culture of impunity, where politicians engage in corrupt practices without fear of consequences. This has eroded public trust in the government and undermined the legitimacy of the democratic process”, the CSOs noted.

Noting that transparency and accountability are crucial elements that enable democracies to flourish, the CSOs lamented that Nigeria’s so-called “democracy” has persistently functioned under a veil of secrecy and lawlessness.

They said over the past few weeks, they have observed with great concern, the malicious attacks and deliberate efforts to blackmail anti-corruption agencies through sponsorship of influencers, incentivised opinion publications in some national dailies, online and electronic platforms, all targeted at discouraging anti-corruption efforts and shielding the kleptocrats from thorough investigation.

“The pattern is clear, there is an unfolding plot of surreptitious moves to backpedal on the progress made by anti-corruption progress”, the declared.

According to the CSOs, judicial corruption constitutes a major challenge to anti-corruption work in Nigeria.

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“The looters have repeatedly used their influence to manipulate the judicial process and system, to block and/or delay the arrest or prosecution of suspects. Clearly, the judiciary is not living up to its responsibility of ensuring that the rule of law and provisions of the constitution are upheld.

“Nigerians have witnessed too many situations where courts have granted injunctions which deterred anti-corruption agencies from inviting and prosecuting corrupt government officials and politically exposed persons. 

“Nigerians have witnessed with alarm numerous cases featuring a high number of foreign enablers from Switzerland, Monaco, Panama, British Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom (UK) facilitating corruption. Enablers from the UK are particularly strongly linked to Nigerian cases. Of course, Nigeria also has a number of domestic enablers involved in cases. Out of 87 enablers captured, 5 enablers are from Nigeria: 3 lawyers/law firms and 2 real estate agents. This is due to cases involving, for example, Nigerian lawyers managing trusts on behalf of their clients that are then used to move funds abroad.

“The budgetary allocations to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau CCB and Nigeria Police, among others are inadequate. Poor resource allocation is a calculated attempt to gradually push these agencies towards extinction. By limiting their resources, the government is effectively crippling their ability to function effectively and independently.

“There are desperate efforts by corrupt elements to disinform, mislead, misinform and confuse Nigerians on the efforts of various anti-corruption institutions in Nigeria. We are worried over the poor understanding of the work and mandates of the anti-corruption agencies by many Nigerians including the youth.

“One of the most dangerous developments in the country is the massive recruitment of young persons into different forms of criminality. These include traditional sectors such as political thuggery and cultism but also new sectors such as cybercrimes and human and drug trafficking. More youth are daily becoming engaged in criminal activities including ritual killings, cyber-crimes, kidnapping, prostitution, robbery and banditry.

“We are also concerned by the recent withdrawal of Police from the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission. This withdrawal of about 40 Police officers who were responsible for security and investigative tasks has not only hampered the work of the anti-corruption agency in Kano State, but also endangered the Police’s obligation to operate with impartiality and independence.

“It appears that this move is not unconnected to the attempt to frustrate the ongoing investigations into corruption allegations levelled against the National Chairman of the ruling All-Progressives Congress APC and former governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

“To effectively combat corruption and make significant strides towards progress, it is crucial to adopt a cohesive strategy that addresses all elements that support Nigeria’s growing corruption system.

“The National Judicial Council must diligently monitor its members and promptly remove any corrupt judicial officer found to be compromising the judicial system. By doing so, it will significantly contribute to the restoration of sanity and the promotion of accountability within the nation.

“To truly establish a flourishing democracy, transparency and accountability must be strictly adhered to in governance.

“We urge IGP Kayode Egbetokun to promptly reinstate the police personnel withdrawn from the Kano State Anti-Corruption Commission, to facilitate the effective execution of Commission’s duties. Nigeria Police must avoid actions that may portray it as being submissive to politicians”, the CSOs added.

The 50 CSOs which signed the written address were the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre CISLAC; Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre); Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education CHRICED; Centre for Information Technology and Development CITAD; African Centre for Media & Information Literacy AFRICMIL; Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress BOCODEP; BudgIT Foundation; Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa CAPPA; State of the Union SOTU; Tax Justice and Governance Platform; Transition Monitoring Group TMG; and, Women in Media Communication Initiative WIM.

Others were Zero Corruption Coalition ZCC; Alliance for Credible Elections ACE; Centre Democracy and Development CDD; Accountability Lab, Nigeria; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development CJID; Say NO Campaign – Nigeria; Femi Falana Chamber

20.Health of Mother Earth Foundation HOMEF; Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project SERAP; Good Governance Team; 21st Century Community Empowerment for Youth Initiative; OCCEN-Kano; Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy Centre MAMA Centre; Social Action; and, Centre for Transparency Watch.

Others include West Africa Civil Society Forum WASCSOF; Global Rights; African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and  Development (Centre LSD); Partners West Africa; Order Paper; Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria ERA; Center for Fiscal Transparency and Public Integrity; Amnesty International Nigeria; Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre; Connected Development CODE; Centre for Democratic Research and Training CRDDERT; Praxis; CLEEN Foundation; Spaces for Change; Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; Yiaga Africa; Policy Alert; Socio Economic Research and Development Centre; Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative; Media Rights Agenda; Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries; and, Centre for Social Justice.