President Muhammed Buhari has sent two bills to the National Assembly seeking for stiffer penalties for culprits of money laundering. In the letter accompanying the bills, the President informed that the first bill seeks to repeal the existing Money Laundering Act, which was enacted in 2011 to provide for stiffer penalty for money launderers to discourage the illegal act and the second bill, to make provisions that would enable Nigeria to seek international assistance in recovering looted funds.
Also; the making of arrangements for persons to give evidence or assist in criminal investigations, the recovery, forfeiture or confiscation of property in respect of offences, the provision of protection for employees of various institutions, bodies and professions who may discover money laundering and enhance customer due diligence are included in the bills according to the President’s letter.
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, sees this step as a step in the right direction consequent upon our conviction that the Rule of Law must apply as the efforts to rid our country of corruption continues. It also shows respect for due process, procedure, the principle of separation of powers and Public opinion.
CACOL calls on the National Assembly not to delay in the processes that will translate the Bills into Acts of Law if they are really sincere and on the same page with majority of Nigerians on the need to expunge corruption from our system holistically. For us, if the National Assembly treats these bills expeditiously, it will do more good for the NASS than harm, given that in the Public court, the NASS is considered by most as a ‘House of Corruption’.
CACOL believes the slap-on-the-wrists or the kids’ glove handling of those found guilty of corruption cannot serve as strong deterrents for potentially or latently corrupt persons in the country. We are convinced that culprits of corruption deserve stiffer penalties than what our laws presently provides for.
Corruption must be combatted from the point of intent and not necessarily at the point when the act has been committed; we must nip corruption in the bud. This means tackling behavioral patterns that are potentially corrupt through education, awareness creation, punitive and importantly leading by example!
And this is why, we put it to the Presidency that ‘coming to equity, entails coming with clean hands and preaching requires practicing what you preach’. We hold that, a Presidency that is still keeping 11 Jets in its Fleet is not exemplary at all, especially when the President and his party promised ‘change’ and rode on that mantra to get to power. We expect that real change should mean reduction in cost of governance; prudence, discipline, shunning of wastages and frivolities.
Reports have it that, Nigeria’s Presidential Fleet is the 3rd largest in Nigeria after the commercial carriers, Arik Airlines and Aero Contractors, and it is also the biggest in Africa. We call on the Presidency to correct this aberration as it contradicts the posture of an anti-corruption government. The cost of maintenance alone can cater for some other issues of priority bedeviling our polity.
We find the sum of N39, 124,978,811 allocated to the Presidency as outrageous and a continuum of the hitherto extravagant and corrupt tendencies of the regime that Nigerians clearly and vigorously voted out of power in the 2015 general elections. Change can only mean change, there must be no ambiguity.
We commend the role of the Judiciary thus far, but we hasten to reiterate that it is very important that our judicial system adhere to high standard of judicial integrity and transparent procedures.
Interlocutory injunctions remain is a serious bane in our judicial system. We need strong institutions like judiciary and others if Nigeria really wants to rid the country of corruption and corrupt people. The Judiciary as the last resort and bastion of democracy must be impervious to corruption.
Forward to the fight against corruption; name, shame, shun and nail all corrupt persons! We shall defeat corruption!!