‘Concentration of Anti-graft Agencies Activities at Federal Level Not Helping Anti-Corruption Objectives’

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) has said the concentration of activities of the anti-corruption agencies at the federal level will work against the actualisation of the country’s anti-corruption objectives.

It said there was need to extend and strengthen the work of the anti-corruption agencies at the States and Local governed areas, adding that the concentration of powers in the federal government under the exclusive legislative list was not helpful.

Speaking at the media launch of a research report in Abuja titled; “Laws and Policies: Processes and Procedure for Open Government Partnership Implementation in Nigeria,” the Executive Director of the Centre, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said corruption was one of the greatest problems in Nigeria and it is one of the blockages to development in the country.

According to him, “In order to address this problem of corruption, the world over as recognised that what needs to be done is open government and the Buhari administration signed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and it requires both government and non state actors to come together to deal with the problem.”

Igbuzor added; “We know that in every society, what guides what happen are laws and processes. So, what we have done today is to present the report of a research which was done by Centre LSD on the laws and processes that can promote open government in Nigeria and lead to decrease of corruption and what the report has shown is that there are certain laws that are not yet been passed in Nigeria like Proceeds of Crime Act, Whistle blowers Act, Witness Protection Act.

“The next phase now is to advocate to the National Assembly to pass these laws speedily so that corruption which is a blockade to development and provision of services in Nigeria will be reduced.”

The Team Leader, Justice Sector Reform Team, member of OGP Secretariat, Ministry of Justice, Barr. Sulayman Dawodu, said it was recommended that the powers of the anti-graft agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC be reduced to their core mandate of investigations and curbing or watering down their prosecution power.

He stated: “We have accessed the efforts so far of the investigating agencies, we have seen that they are struggling in most cases with the issue of prosecution, because they are mainly an investigating body. We recommended that they should be more placed given the powers to maintain their core mandate which is investigation and leave the issue of prosecution possibly to the Ministry of Justice or to other prosecution agencies which the Attorney General will direct from time to time. We felt this will strengthen the position and the mandate of EFCC and ICPC itself.”

Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Programme Director, Uche Arisukwu said the main objective of the OGP was to give more bite to the anti-graft war.

He noted that the realisation of the OGP was hinged on the adoption of a strong and purposeful legal and institutional framework for the implementation of the OGP National Action Plan by the implementing partners (government and civil societies).

Recall that Nigeria, in its effort to deepen institutional and policy reforms, joined the OGP in July 2016 as the 70th country.