CCT Judge Queries Use of Public Funds to Buy Vehicles for Politicians

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Justice Agwadza William Atedze of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has queried the use of public funds to buy vehicles for politicians, and counselled the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to conduct a research into the issues to see how best can reconcile social and cultural values viz-a-viz the entire war against corruption and advise our policymakers accordingly.

Justice Atedze said this thursday at the launch of SERAP’s latest report titled: ‘Combating Grand Corruption and Impunity in Nigeria: An Agenda for Institutional Reforms in Anti-Corruption Strategies.’

The report is published under a project to promote justice sector and anti-corruption oversight mechanism reform, which SERAP is undertaking in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USA.

Apart from Justice Atedze who represented the Chairman of the CCT, Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar, at the report launch, other anti-corruption agencies that attended the event were the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

The Head of Procurement and Fraud Section of the EFCC, Mr. Dauda Joki-Lasisi, who represented the agency at the report launch said: “The fight against corruption can be likened to an allegory of a giant in the midst of ants, as little as an ant is, it may not be able to wear the trouser of a giant, but will remove it.”

The Head of ICPC Lagos Office, Mr. Olufemi Nofiu; and Mr. T. Collins who represented the Chairman of the CCB, Mr. Sam Saba, echoed similar sentiments, promising to “do anything and everything within their powers to curb corruption in the country in its entirety.”

All the anti-graft agencies renewed their commitment to work even harder to end the problem of grand corruption in the country, and end its devastating consequences.

Chairman of the report launch Babatunde Ogala said: “Corruption is simply a way of life for us all, it is deep, when you steal as a religious institution, you are as corrupt as any Nigerian. In my opinion, corruption is both cultural and religious, corruption is as big as this country, the way of curbing it is by changing our national orientation.”

Ogala, who was former Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Judiciary, also said: “The EFCC ought to have offices even at the local government level. The society itself encourages and invests in corruption. As a legislator, I was constantly measured by what I did for individuals and not by the amount of law making I engaged in.”

The report contains several recommendations among which is the call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to ensure that all judges fully utilise the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in the hearing of grand corruption cases before them.

Among other key recommendations, the report urged Justice Onnoghen to “ensure that judges, in situations where the ACJA rules apply, are made to follow the dictates of these innovative statutory interventions or face disciplinary action, and to incorporate into ongoing judicial trainings these crucial statutes and procedures as well as include the ACJA as part of the mandatory continuing legal education for all judges in Nigeria.”

The report also recommends that “The CJN and all other judges should also periodically disclose and publish their assets. The Chief Justice should promote full independence for the National Judicial Council (NJC) including by allowing retired judges of proven integrity to lead the council.”