President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to honour international conventions on corruption so as to strengthen the various anti-corruption laws and improve the capacity for citizen participation.
The request was made during a one-day summit on Assessing Key Development in the Anti-Corruption Regime-Focusing on the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Bill held in Abuja. The conference was organised by HEDA Resource Centre
The summit drew participants form the anti-corruption agencies including but not limited to Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, (PACAC), Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD West Africa), the National Assembly, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the media, labour and civil society.
In the communiqué issued and signed by HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, participants opined that Nigeria’s inability to honour international conventions undermines the country’s ability to deal effectively with corruption. Some of the treaties included the United Nations Convention on Corruption (UNCAC), the ECOWAS and African Union protocols on corruption.
According to the participants, corruption remains a major problem in Nigeria, it is responsible for poverty, deprivation, declining confidence in government institutions and the rise in public disorder.
‘Nigeria is one of the richest countries in the world, but her citizens are some of the poorest in the world. Nigeria has a weak monitoring regime of the anti-corruption agencies’ the groups said.
Participants said success in the fight against corruption is a win-win for Nigerians. It will lead to prosperity, greatness and the greatest good for the greatest number. It will also stem the tide of violence and misery.
In the communiqué, participants urged the anti corruption agencies and the civil society to increase the tempo of anti graft crusade through strategic alliance with professional bodies like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Society of Engineers among others while at the same time taking the campaign to the streets, through constructive engagements of victims of corruption.
The Ministry of Justice was also asked to discourage the arbitrary withdrawal of on-going corruption cases while there should be an end to MOUs that provide safe havens for looters.
The participants urged State Governments to institutionalise the fight against corruption by setting up anti-corruption agencies at the state and Local Government levels.
It stated further ‘The media, the National Assembly and all democratic institutions should sustain and uphold a language narrative that diminishes class distinction to reflect equity in the report and coverage of crime actors.’
It called for stiffer punishment for corrupt officials to serve as deterrent while adequate funds should be provided for anti-corruption agencies to enhance their capacities.
The participants also said that anti corruption laws should take into consideration the fears, needs and aspirations of people with disability.