Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
In another critique of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), among other law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has described the prosecution of financial crimes, as well as the tracing and confiscation of assets as poor.
He also stated that the lack of coordination among institutions championing the anti-corruption crusade has been a major challenge.
The minister, who was represented by an aide in his office, Sulayman Dawodu, made this known Tuesday in Abuja at the Government-Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Round Table on the review of laws on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria, where he also revealed that the AGF had set up a secretariat for the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy of the OGP principles.
He stated that one of the challenges of the existing laws and policies on anti-corruption in Nigeria was that the prosecution of financial crimes and tracing and confiscation of assets, were very poor.
The minister also added that the whistleblowing policy of the Ministry of Finance was very limited in scope because it focuses on reward while the protection of the whistleblower was equally limited.
Accordingly, he urged the CSOs to advocate the speedy passage of the Whistle Blow Bill currently before the National Assembly.
However, in order to ensure effective implementation of the OGP process, the federal government and the CSOs have commenced a comprehensive review of all existing legislations and laws on anti-corruption, transparency and accountability issues, with the aim of making recommendations to the National Assembly.
In his remarks, the Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said it was well known that Nigeria for several decades has continued to grapple with the effective utilisation of its resources to support equitable economic growth, effective service delivery and social cohesion.
He stressed that there was the belief that these challenges have remained because majority of government activities are shrouded in secrecy and thus have limited the space for citizens’ management.
To change the situation, Igbuzor said: “We are focusing on committing to jointly review existing legislations on transparency and accountability issues and making recommendations to the National Assembly.”
He noted that the lead agency for this was the Ministry of Justice, adding that other organs to support the implementation included the National Assembly, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) and CSOs.
He explained that the commitment entails a comprehensive review of all laws and legislations relevant to the OGP process like the EFCC Act, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act, Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, ICPC Act, and the Money Laundering Act, among others.
“We have commissioned a review of the laws and legislations and this roundtable is going to discuss the report of the review and make recommendations to the National Assembly,” Igbuzor added.