Corruption War: Nigeria Makes Case for International Anti-corruption Court
* Wants membership of African peer review compulsory
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has disclosed that Nigeria is currently working with some other countries to establish an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) to frontally deal with the menace of corruption.
Gambari said that the IACC, which would be operated just like the International Criminal Court (ICC), would be dedicated to the international prosecution of corruption cases where national jurisdiction are unable or unwilling to prosecute.
He stated this on Tuesday, in a keynote address he delivered at the 44th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society of International Law (NSIL), which held in Abuja.
While describing the international anti-corruption court as a last resort in the fight against institutional corruption, the president’s chief of staff stated that: “Its jurisdiction would extend to the prosecution of kleptocrats due to the inability or unwillingness of national government to prosecute.”
The court, he added, will possess the power to recover and repatriate assets stolen from victims and “repurpose recovered assets towards development or humanitarian services where the funds were stolen” or “in cases where repatriated assets would be likely re-captured by corrupt officials”.
Cases expected to be brought before the court in line with the United Nations convention include cases defined as ‘grand corruption’ and kleptocracy, and anyone found guilty is sanctioned or imprisoned according to the law.
Gambari however advised that it is high time membership of the African Peer Review Mechanism be made compulsory instead of voluntary.
While emphasizing the need for leaders to subject themselves to the rule of law, he urged citizens to endeavour to hold leaders and the elite accountable for their actions.
He stressed that the ‘Nigeria of our dreams’ has not changed from that of the country’s founding fathers, but there must be a concerted effort by all.
“Presently, there are multiple fractious sub-national plots that have not been woven into a consensual story of who we are, what we are and where we want to be in this spinning interdependent future.
“Promoting the Nigeria of our dream must begin by a commitment to democratic governance and we have to somehow create consensus on a rational way of governing ourselves,” he added.
In a welcome, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stated that the theme of the conference, ‘Realizing the Nigeria of Our Dream in Global Governance: The Challenges of Institutional Corruption, National Insecurity, International Law and Democratic Governance’, was apt as the nation prepares for a crucial general election.
While stating that corruption is a global and national problem, he observed that global response to the scourge has been slow given the intricacies of international law and negotiations, adding that national response ought to be more dynamic because corruption could be an existential issue for a nation.
According to Owasanoye, corruption negatively impacts security, human rights, good governance, environment, social cohesion and the Sustenable Development Goals and the African Agenda 2063.
The ICPC chairman maintained that the cost of corruption was huge and “remains the primary cause for loss of revenue by developing countries in quantum yet to be accurately articulated”.