By Abimbola Akosile and Ugo Aliogo
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACA) has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSO) around the country to support the anti-graft war spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group noted that the anti-graft war should not be left to the president alone, adding that the public and stakeholders have a great role to play, and that “the fight against corruption must involve everyone, especially those stakeholders that are suffering from the underdevelopment consequences of the corruption problem.”
Speaking at a workshop on anti-graft corruption organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the PACA and CSO in Abuja recently, the chairman of the workshop and a member of PACA, Prof. Femi Odekunle, said the forum was aimed at collaborating with CSOs to ensure that they buy into the anti-graft fight of the present administration appropriately.
He enjoined CSOs to move beyond the sensitisation of the ‘converted in seminar rooms’ and get people to work, adding that this would help the fight, and noted that ‘in developed countries, people still protest in the streets to make certain points clear.’
Odekunle further explained that the group has been working on sensitising judges, lawyers on prosecution, and the anti-corruption agencies such as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and others on the method to adopt in the anti-graft war.
He added that the new administration of criminal justice Act 2015 has ensured that if a case is being prosecuted, there are not too many injunctions and adjournments to frustrate it.
Odekunle said: “The corruption war is a war that even people with the president are not genuinely involved. We must energise the judiciary to ensure that they don’t follow their own legal technicalities of manifesting shenanigans to delay cases. As you are aware you have less than 10 people in the Senate who have cases in court and yet he has to relate to those people to enable him pass his budget. If he (Buhari) makes them angry, they will assert that he is not following the rule of law. The administration is fighting those who are corrupt.”
In his presentation, the Chair CSO Advisory Committee, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, stated that the CSOs have been active in the fight against corruption through rallies and campaigns, noting that the achievements of the CSOs have been its fight in the 2011 general elections which had a successful outcome.
He said CSOs fought to ensure that they were able to address the abuses and excesses in public offices, adding that government were held accountable, and people were mobilised to vote to beyond primordial considerations.
The Country Director of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pa Lamin Beyai said the workshop seeks to empower CSOs to increase their participation in anti-corruption activities and become invaluable assets in the anti-graft war.