The Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALAC) established by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) held a one-day sensitisation workshop in Abuja recently, to educate citizens and women groups on their rights.
CISLAC is currently implementing a project through Transparency International (TI), with support from Global Affairs Canada to empower citizens to become part of the anti-corruption campaign, which is the core focus of the present administration.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Musa (aka Rafsanjani), said it is expedient for citizens to begin to demand accountability from the government. He added that Nigerians are not aware of their fundamental rights and as such, cannot tell when it is violated or know where to go to seek redress.
Rafsanjani noted that there is a need for all Nigerians to understand their rights and demand accountability from those who govern them, hence the need for the ALAC which offers citizens the opportunity to actively engage in fighting corruption by reporting corruption cases; in line with one of Nigeriaâ€™s commitment under the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) to support victims and witnesses of corrupt practices.
Senior Programme Officer with CISLAC, Mr. Kolawole Banwo, who gave an overview of the IMPACT project, said it is about getting citizens involved in the fight against corruption, building knowledge, sharing ideas and supporting victims and witnesses of corruption. He further stated that ALAC takes information in a confidential manner, so the victim or witness is protected.
ALAC is a centre designed to take reports from witnesses and victims of corrupt practices, forward it to the relevant authorities for investigation and seek redress where necessary, while following up on the case so as to provide feedback to the client in order to shore up confidence in citizens, Banwo added.
The project focus is on increasing the integrity, transparency and accountability of public and private sector, while empowering civil society to advocate for change in policy and practice.
In a related development, CISLAC also organised a one-day capacity building workshop on Anti-Corruption Programming for its staff members, other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and some anti-corruption agencies, which was held at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja.
It was organised within the framework of CISLAC current project ‘Tackling Inequalities in Nigeria through Transparent, Accountable and Participatory Governance’, which is being implemented in collaboration with TI-S in Berlin, Germany with support from the Ford Foundation under their governance project.
In his welcome address, Rafsanjani, who was represented by Mr. Adesina Oke who is a board member of CISLAC, stated that corruption is a cankerworm that affects all Nigerians directly and indirectly hence, it is important for all stakeholders to collectively combat it.
The project coordinator, Mr. Lukman Adefolahan, while giving a brief on the project and the training session pointed out the need for stakeholders in the anti-corruption fight to be strategic, dynamic and sincere. He further outlined a list of activities under the project, which he said, involved the creation of a local advisory group, the exchange meetings, and high-level meetings amongst other events.
The facilitator of the forum, Mr. Soji Apampa of the Integrity Organisation, taught participants on ‘Building Integrity and Emerging Best Practices on Curbing Corruption’.
In this session he underscored the crucial role integrity plays in the fight against corruption, stressing that if individuals, agencies and entities can display utmost integrity, corruption will be brought to its barest minimum.
While making reference to Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, recent United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) report and Nigeria’s Fitch rating, he informed participants that the results Nigeria is getting in the fight against corruption are not commensurate with the effort, hence the need for a holistic approach.
Apampa also urged CSOs to fully practice transparency and accountability before they preach it. He also listed incentives and sanctions, education and social tolerance as factors in the fight against corruption; and advised them to develop a self-regulatory framework to ensure adherence to the principal of transparency and accountability.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ministry of Justice, while CSOs like Publish What You Pay, 21st Century, were also present as well as the Media.