Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) on the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obong Obla, has stated that the panel has neither gone beyond its mandate nor usurped the powers of any government agency while carrying out its mandate.
He stated this yesterday in Abuja at the second forum on anti-corruption situation room with the theme: â€˜Building Public Ownership and Accountability in Governance and Service Deliveryâ€™.
According to him, â€œWe all can attest to the fact that the panel has not gone out of its mandate nor usurp powers that were never ascribed to it.â€
He explained that although corruption is a serious world-wide phenomenon, but it is most destructive in emerging countries like Nigeria with fragile economy and in societies that fail to understand that the country is a common property of all its citizens,â€ saying this had led to failure of institutions of government to deliver the basics of life such as healthcare, education infrastructure and food.
Obla added that it was even more devastating when there is a culture of impunity, and in Nigeriaâ€™s circumstance, crimes by the powerful or by subordinates who enjoy their protection are often not prosecuted.
â€˜â€™Corruption can manifest in different sectors of the economy as it breedâ€™s inequality of income and wipes off the middle class as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer thereby weakening the societal structure,â€ he continued.
Obla claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari had exhumed the oldest anti-corruption law in the land in August 2017, which gave birth to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Public Property Recovery, charged with the mandate to investigate the assets of public officers involved in corrupt practices and recover all assets acquired by such people as prescribed by the Act.
He added: â€œThe oldest anti- corruption law was exhumed in August 2017, giving birth to The Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) for Recovery of Public Property; charged with the mandate to investigate the assets of Public officers involved in corrupt practices and recover public properties acquired by such persons pursuant to the provisions of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act Cap R.4, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.â€
On his part, a human rights lawyer Femi Falana, said no government can succeed in the fight against corruption without the citizens keying into it and see it as their duty.
â€˜â€™We should go out there and mobilise the Nigerian people to fight corruption because our people are the victims of corruption. And if they appreciate the dangers involved and the deleterious effect of corruption, I am sure our people will key into the fight and that is the only way the government can succeed,â€ he said.
He added: â€œBecause there is no way you can fight corruption successfully at the level of the government; it wonâ€™t work if you are going to talk about public ownership. If we must build popular ownership that belongs to the people, we must go to the people, market women, the labour movement and other victims of corruption in our country.â€
Falana claimed that though the government had mustered the political will to fight corruption, it has not yet convinced Nigerians of equal treatment for those who are either in government or outside government, saying until this is done, it would present the government as selective in its anti-corruption war.