As the on-going war against corruption is gaining momentum, CACOL calls on the government, civil society organisations and relevant security agencies not to relent or be distracted, but to remain consistent and focused on the long term goal of eradicating corruption in Nigeria.
It’s expedient to know that corruption has deep roots in our body polity as a country, this situation calls for all hands to be deck in order to excise the deeply embedded culture of corruption that seem to have been inextricably encoded in our DNA as a Nation.
Thus far, CACOL is in full support of the efforts being made by government to stamp out corruption from our society regardless of the distractive voices and actions of pro-corruption elements who are fighting back to achieve the derailment of the moving Train against corruption.
With the avalanche of revelations coming from indicted and accused corrupt persons in Public office; from the $2.1 billion Arms deal, the NIMASA exposé, the 15 billion naira NBC case, the cans of worms opened in the Custom Service, the probe of Army personnel on arms purchase, the re-opening of the case of the Halliburton bribery scandal etc., there can’t be any turning back.
The fight against corruption must however include the recovering of ill-gotten gains with application of punitive actions against the perpetrators of the corrupt practices and in addition, the recovered loots and where such funds will be deployed must be made public to demonstrate transparency, integrity and to pass the massage that indeed the anti-corruption war is genuine and in the overall interest of Nigerians.
The Presidential committee investigating arms procurement between 2007 and 2015 which has started a fresh investigation into the purchases of equipment by the Army during the period and the directive by the Chief of Army Staff that all Army Personnel in Public Office should declare their assets within the next 14 days are in order. The steps are bold and encouraging, because they are indicative that there would be no sacred cows in the war against corruption unlike the hitherto existing situation. The anti-corruption drive cannot be effective if business is allowed to continue as usual. All corrupt persons whether Civilian, Military, Police, EFCC, ICPC, Customs etc. must be treated as what they are, criminals, without caring whose ox is gored.’’
We commend also, the directive by the Presidency that all Public Officials in all agencies and departments should declare their assets publicly.
We hasten to say that in combating corruption, the government and relevant agencies must not abandon the rule of law, regard for human rights, due process and constitutionalism whether during investigations, interrogations or trial processes.
We must note that when fighting corruption, corruption will fight back, thus we must guide our loins to checkmate the counter-attacks being organised by corrupt persons to frustrate the anti-corruption war. The hullabaloo raised over Olisa Metuh’s appearance in handcuffs at his hearing in court is an example of distractive moves by unrepentant corrupt tendencies. We affirm that handcuffing is a standard procedure based on the discretion of the prison official involved and does not violate the constitution in anyway. What we are witnessing is the attempt to whip up sentiments and empathy in favour of corrupt elements that have over time drained the Commonwealth of the Nation with rabid and bare-faced impunity.
CACOL calls for diligent prosecution of all corrupt persons such that convictions of those found guilty can be achieved to serve as deterrent to others. It is an open secret that these corrupt individuals have at their disposal, ill-gotten gains with which they can pay for legal services of the cleverest lawyers who can wriggle through the labyrinth of the litigations to escape justice. With prudent, diligent and thorough investigations and prosecutions, we can win the battle against corruption.
The present anti-corruption war must result in the plugging of the gaping holes and the blocking of the conduits pipes of corrupt and sharp practices to avoid a backslide to the culture of corruption we are gradually leaving behind as a nation.
As such, CACOL finds some Budget heads in the 2016 Budget Proposal contradictory, embarrassing and unacceptable. For how can a supposedly ‘frugal’ government supposedly fighting corruption, a government that rode on the mantra of change to get to power, a government that is demanding that the ordinary Nigerians should tighten their belts and pay more taxes/increased tariffs engage in proposing to spend 4.8 billion naira on Aso Rock VIP Clinic and website and 795 million naira website upgrade for the Solid Minerals Development Ministry? We condemn in entirety these proposed outrageous and frivolous spending, we call on the government to prone down their expenditure in line with what it preaches! There are d more pressing needs before us as a people and country that should be prioritized above frivolities and wastage in terms of the scale of preference of our challenges.
When you want to come to equity, you come with clean hands. Let’s kill corruption before it kills us! Let the war against corruption continue, let the beat go on!!
Executive Chairman, CACOL