The Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACA) and Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs) have agreed to establish a robust partnership in the anti-graft war with a pledge to facilitate an all-inclusive approach towards implementing a resolution of the conference of states parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to halt the tide of corruption.
In a statement issued at the end of the second meeting of the PACA, ACAs and CSO groups, under the auspices of the European Union (EU) funded project – ‘Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria,’ which is being implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it was observed that there was a need for an inclusive strategy for the popularisation of the resolution of the Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (St. Petersburg Resolution).
Participants resolved to embark on advocacy geared towards the popularisation and effective implementation of the Sixth Resolution of the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC.
Resolution 6/2 of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, “Urges all states parties to cooperate to recover the proceeds of crime, as defined in the convention, including embezzled public funds and stolen assets, to prevent and detect transfers of proceeds of crime, including off-the-book assets derived from corruption, at home and abroad, and to demonstrate strong commitment to ensuring the return or disposal of such assets, including their return to the countries of origin, in accordance with article seven of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”
The Abuja meeting was convened under the auspices of the EU funded project – “Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria”, which is being implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The PACA reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to address identified priority issues relating to the implementation of Resolution 6/2 of the sixth Conference of States Parties of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), to facilitate international cooperation on asset recovery and the return of proceeds of crime to prior legitimate owners. Participants at the workshop also called for collaboration among PACA, CSOs and the media in the anti-graft fight of the present administration, and proactive measures in investigating corruption cases.
In a clearly articulated position paper by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, on behalf of the CSOs, made recommendations on issues that are considered pertinent to the war against corruption. In this regard, he called on PACA to use its good offices to influence Government’s quick responses on such issues and to help facilitate the domestication of the St. Petersburg Resolution and advocacy for its implementation.
Prof. Femi Adekunle challenged the civil society organisations to intensify actions in the fight against corruption in the country by mobilizing people in taking actionable campaigns in peaceful protests to national assemblies and appropriate authorities. He described President Muhammadu Buhari as the oasis of integrity in a desert of corruption, and urged the CSOs to be action oriented in support of the anti-corruption fight of this present administration by having a platform to mobilise people to take actionable actions.
Also speaking, Dr. Benedicta Daudu, (PACA) observed that the committee was more of an advisory to the presidency on corruption issues and had held meetings and trainings for relevant anti-corruption agencies which had led to the production of information on corruption and intelligence sharing manuals including pleas bargain manuals, sentencing guidelines for prosecution of corruption cases and reviews of activities of Anti-Corruption Agencies and its challenges.
Mr. Eze Onyekpere of Centre for Social Justice, in his presentation called for serious collaboration among ACA, CSOs and media, flayed the attitude of ACA in not sharing information with the CSOs, media and even among themselves but engaged in unhealthy competition among the agencies.
Stressing the need for organised labour, ASUU, FBOs to join the anti-graft war, Onyekpere called on the present administration to be holistic in the anti-corruption fight, to run an open and transparent government with respect for the Freedom of Information Act.
The participants emphasised the need for a collaborative effort in combating corruption as well as taking proactive measures in investigating corruption cases.
Stressing the imperative of an all-inclusive approach in the fight against corruption, they called on Anti-corruption agencies to be more open to citizens and members of the public, especially the Media and the CSOs, about the details of asset recovery and the anti-corruption war.
Among other resolutions adopted at the meeting, CSOs also recognised the need to diversify approaches and thus resolved to incorporate more mass actions as part of the strategies in the fight against corruption.