How to fight corruption under Tinubu by Falana

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN on Monday urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “promptly provide the leadership and ensure that the Whistle Blower Bill, Witness Protection Bill, the Federal Audit Bill and present them before the National Assembly for passage into laws “.

According to Falana, “doing this would strengthen the fight against corruption in the country.” The senior lawyer said this in a paper titled ‘Anticorruption Agenda setting for Nigeria’ delivered at Webinar Series No 9 held by Rule of Law Development Foundation.

Falana said, “In order to promote Public Accountability, the Office of the Accountant-General should resume the publication of the monthly statutory allocations to the federal, state, and local governments. The monthly disbursement of ecological funds should also be published.”

The paper, read in part: “Assets declared by all public officers should be published to enable citizens to report illegally acquired wealth. Former governors in the Senate and those who may be in the Federal Executive Council should not be paid pension while receiving salaries and allowances from the Federal Government.”

“To empower citizens to fight corruption, the Federal Ministry of Justice should summarize and publish all anti-corruption laws and distribute them to members of the public.”

“There should a general salary review for all public officers and civil servants and direct cash transfer should be made to the 133 million who are extremely poor.”

“The Peoples Bank should be reestablished and revitalised to afford indigent citizens the opportunity to apply for soft loans.”

“In its manifesto, the All Progressive Congress claims to have ‘a zero-tolerance approach to corruption-rooting out dishonest public servants and imposing tough sanctions, including jail sentences.’ The Mohammadu Buhari administration made the fight against corruption one of its three cardinal programmes.”

“The Nigerian people were made to believe that the Federal Government would frontally confront the menace of corruption.”

“The people of Africa believed that Nigeria was prepared to lead the continent in the fight against corruption. Hence, the member states of the African Union unanimously appointed President Buhari as the Champion of Anti-Corruption in Africa.”

“But shortly thereafter, Nigeria disappointed Africa as the war against corruption was defeated by the government itself. Many politically exposed persons who were charged for money laundering running to billions of Naira were either freed by the anti-graft agencies or on by the courts on technical grounds.”

“It is on record that the President did not sanction many members of the cabal and the cabinet who were indicted for criminal diversion of huge public funds.”

“As if that was not enough, former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN teamed up with highly corrupt elements to sabotage the anti- corruption campaign.”

“On a regular basis, the Justice Minister filed nolle prosequi applications to terminate the trial of corrupt officials and thereby frustrated officials of the anti-graft agencies from fighting corruption.”

“Thus, the rate of official corruption has increased phenomenally. While confirming Nigeria’s poor ranking in the corruption index, Mr. Garba Shehu, former presidential spokesman, says it is a reflection of Nigerians and not President Muhammadu Buhari.”

“That is an official acknowledgement of the failure of the crusade against corruption.”

“Obviously dissatisfied with the manifesto of the APC, the candidate of the party in the 2023 presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu decided to prepare his own manifesto. In the 80-page document, the APC presidential candidate promised to support the ‘existing anti-corruption institutions’ and address the underlying issues of corruption in the oil industry.”

“Apart from planning to commend and protect bona fide hard-working members of the civil service, Asiwaju undertook to continue ‘the process of weeding out ghost workers, as well as ghost projects and expenditures from the system.’”

“In a recent public event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Asiwaju explained how he hoped to fight corruption in the judiciary.”

“Upon his inauguration as President of Nigeria, Asiwaju suspended the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa. Both public officers have since been detained without trial by the SSS.”

“Even though no reason has been adduced for the arrest of both suspects it is alleged that they have been linked with corruption and other economic crimes. President Tinubu removed fuel subsidy and approved the floating of the Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria. According to the President, both policies are designed to curb high level corruption.”

“It is submitted by virtue of section 15(5) of the Constitution, the Nigerian State is under a mandatory obligation to abolish corruption and abuse of power.”

“Every citizen is legally obligated by virtue of section 24(e) of the Constitution to render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.”

“The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and other anti-graft NGOs have won many cases in the area of public accountability. As the judgments were ignored by the Federal Government, we call on President Tinubu to ensure that they are obeyed forthwith.”

“Apart from continuing to engage in public interest litigation to expose corruption, CSOs should  encourage citizens to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act to demand accountability”.

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