Corruption Investigators Need Public Support, Says HEDA

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Human rights and community-based groups in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital on Wednesday called for public support

for anti-graft agencies fighting to track down shady public and private officials, a task that has seen some investigators killed or faced with death threats.

The groups spoke at the evaluation of review of impacts of tracing and recovery of illicit funds and assets on beneficiaries held in the ancient city.

Representatives of the anti-corruption groups spoke on various threats faced by anti-corruption detectives including threats of deaths and kidnapping issued to them and their relations.

The event was organised by the Human and Environmental Rights Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) with the support of MacArthur Foundation, Open

Society Foundation (OSF/OSIWA), TUGAR, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and PTCIJ. The programme was attended by several community-based organisations, civil society, media, and labour.

Participants also spoke extensively on how various HEDA trainings across the country have strengthened their capacity to track stolen funds and illicit assets.

Nigerians were also urged to show solidarity with corruption detectives, adding that the success of their actions is crucial to lifting Nigeria from misery and poverty.

Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, said Nigeria has made progress in the anti-corruption campaign.

He argued that not only at the local level have assets been recovered, but also internationally.

“Nigeria is now like a shining light for Africa in the recovery of stolen assets. Nigeria started the process of engaging the Federal

Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) which has led to the recovery of huge stolen funds from abroad and arrest of cyber criminals,” Suraju said.

The participants said the human rights community was happy about how EFCC has increased pressure on the United Kingdom to repatriate Allison

Madueke, the former Petroleum Minister, believed to have stolen billions of dollars of public funds.

They went a step further to congratulate Mr.

Ibrahim Magu on his recognition by FBI for his achievements in fighting

cyber crimes.

At the technical session, officials of EFCC, ICPC and the Code of

Conduct Bureau (CCB) shared gory experiences of threats and

intimidation suffered in the cause of investigating corruption related

cases.

The officials who wanted not to be named complained that

politically exposed persons often threaten to eliminate corruption

investigators. There have been reports of anti-corruption officials

killed by suspected agents of corrupt persons.

Other hurdles listed by the officials include the long process

associated with the trial sessions aided by judicial bureaucracy and

inadequate data making it difficult to trace stolen assets and political

influences by elected officials.

“We are frustrated by the judiciary, corrupt judges, lawyers and a civil

service network that is noted for bad record keeping and stiff neck

compliance with requests from anti-graft agencies,” an official from one

of the anti-corruption groups stated.

HEDA Executive Secretary, Mr. Sulaimon Arigbabu, said Nigerians should

collaborate with anti-graft agencies adding that public support automatically provide a form of immunity for anti-corruption detectives.

Other groups, who attended the training, were Niger-Delta Budget

Monitoring Group, Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalism, among many

others.