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Anti-Corruption Coalition Tasks National Assembly on Whistle Blower Protection Bill

By Eric Ojo

The Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) has urged the National Assembly to urgently review, strengthen and accelerate the process for the passage of the Whistle Blower protection bill into  law in order encourage citizens to provide relevant information that will enhance the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, Nigeria's House of Representatives

Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, Nigeria’s House of Representatives

The group which a coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country said such a bill should by passed into law with a view to guaranteeing the safety of a Whistle blower and also ensure that a proper feedback mechanism is instituted and supported by transparent administration.

The ZCC also charged stakeholders in the Nigeria project to intensify advocacy for the amendment to Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution to remove the immunity clause that prevents the prosecution of certain public officials while still in office.

The coalition also harped on the is need to amend Section 174 of the constitution to remove or limit the powers of the Attorney General to withdraw corruption related cases or fetter the powers of the specialised agencies assigned the task of prosecuting cases of corruption in Nigeria.

The group lamented that that government at all levels only pay lip service to the fight against corruption and do not match their words with action in any serious or noticeable ways, adding that most of the enabling statutes have weak sanction mechanisms that do not constitute sufficient penalties to deter corruption.

The coalition therefore recommended that anti-corruption laws should be infused with international character such as those of the foreign corrupt practices act and the UK Bribery Act to ensure there is no hiding place for criminals and their proceeds of crime whether or not they are physically present in those jurisdictions.

This was the resolution of the group at end of a one day validation meeting on Assessing Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Preparation for Nigeria’s Country Review Mechanism with support from J4A British Council Anti-Corruption Component. The meeting which was held in Lagos had 30 participants comprising of representatives of CSOs that cut across FBOs, CBOs Youth organisations, gender focused organizations, professional bodies and media representative working on the thematic area of discussion across the country and legal practitioners.

The aim of the validation meeting was to assess, review and publish the extent to which Nigeria’s anti-corruption initiatives conforms to the provisions of the UNCAC and to incorporate the views expressed at the validation meeting to engage with the UNCAC review team for Nigeria based on the earlier report on the UNCAC review process for Nigeria and the value of the CSO Report on Nigeria’s Implementation of the UNCAC.

The group also urged the government to embark upon judicial reforms for quick administration of Justice and elimination of undue delays experienced in trials of corruption cases in the country, noting that anti-corruption cases deserve special attention and ought to be treated as urgent matters of urgency and national interest.

“There is need to constantly review the state of our anti-corruption laws. This must be done against development of other Corrupt Free States in the world while paying special regard to local environment and special peculiarities of the Nigerian Society. There is need for creation of effective legal framework collaboration between anti- graft agencies in Nigeria to ensure a synergy of strong information network to aid prosecution”, the coalition further noted.

They also stressed the need for stakeholders to intensify sensitization and awareness creation for a total re-orientation among citizens at all levels so as to achieve the desired result in the fight against corruption, adding that the Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) model needs to be strengthened to serve as mechanism for the prevention of corruption in the country.

“Prevention is generally believed to be better and less expensive than cure. Apart from the high cost of remedying the destruction caused by corruption as exemplified in the damage to the society and human person in the form of collapse of critical infrastructure as a result of diversion of resources meant for infrastructural development, corruption also undermines accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs as well as result in stunted socio-economic development amongst others”, the group further observed.

The coalition also lamented that there is lack of political will from both the nation’s policy makers and the opposition parties to fight corruption in Nigeria, adding that there is need for the creation of effective legal framework collaboration between anti-graft agencies in the country to ensure a synergy of strong information network to aid prosecution.

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