How Procurement Of Political Positions By Looters Is Impeding Anti-graft War – Coalition Of CSOs


BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – A coalition of 50 leading Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country, on Thursday, May 2, 2024 in Abuja declared that the procurement of political appointments by some suspected or investigated looters serving under the current administration as ministers, legislators, or occupying leadership positions of the ruling party, has exposed anti-corruption work to serious setback and deliberate sabotage that crippled the efficiency of the anti-corruption agencies.

The Coalition on the aegis of ‘Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria’ also said that judicial corruption constituted a major challenge to anti-corruption work in Nigeria, stressing that looters have repeatedly used their influence to manipulate the judicial process and system, to block and/or delay the arrest or prosecution of suspects.

The groups at a press conference in Abuja addressed by the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stressed that the blatant disregard for the rule of law has eroded public trust and reinforced the perception that Nigeria’s democracy is nothing more than a façade, stressing that clearly, the judiciary has not lived up to its responsibility of ensuring that the rule of law and provisions of the constitution are upheld.

The 50 CSOs included; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP), BudgIT Foundation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), State of the Union (SOTU), Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG),

Women in Media Communication Initiative (WIM), Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Centre Democracy and Development (CDD) and Accountability Lab, Nigeria

Others were; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Say NO Campaign – Nigeria, Femi Falana Chamber, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Good Governance Team, 21st Century Community Empowerment for Youth Initiative, OCCEN-Kano, Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy Centre ( MAMA Centre), Social Action, Centre for Transparency Watch, West Africa Civil Society Forum WASCSOF, Global Rights, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Partners West Africa, Order Paper, Say No Campaign, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria. ERA, and the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Public Integrity.

The Coalition also included; Amnesty International Nigeria, RULAAC – Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre,

Connected Development (CODE), Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT), Praxis, CLEEN Foundation, Spaces for Change, Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, Yiaga Africa, Policy Alert, Socio Economic Research and Development Centre, Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, Media Rights Agenda, MEDIA INITIATIVE FOR TRANSPARENCY IN EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES (MITEI) and Centre for Social Justice

The 50 CSOs specifically said that budgetary allocations to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Nigeria Police, among others are inadequate, stressing that poor resource allocation is a calculated attempt to gradually push the agencies towards extinction.

The groups noted that by limiting the resources of the anti-graft agencies, the federal government is effectively crippling their ability to function effectively and independently.

In the words of the Coalition; “There are desperate efforts by corrupt elements to disinform, mislead, misinform and confuse Nigerians on the efforts of various anti-corruption institutions in Nigeria.

“We are worried over the poor understanding of the work and mandates of the anti-corruption agencies by many Nigerians including the youth, who recently played an active role in preventing the arrests of some prominent looters of the public treasury, not minding the negative impact of the loots on rising unemployment and economic downturn being experienced and the ailing critical sector that endlessly plague our economy.

“This blatant disregard for the rule of law has eroded public trust and reinforced the perception that Nigeria’s democracy is nothing more than a facade. Clearly, the judiciary is not living up to its responsibility of ensuring that the rule of law and provisions of the constitution are upheld.

“There have been several allegations of judicial officers receiving bribes from politicians and politically exposed persons in-order to circumvent the law. This has watered down the respect, trust and confidence of citizens in the judiciary and negatively impacted the fight against corruption.

“Nigerians have witnessed too many situations where courts have granted injunctions which deterred anti-corruption agencies from inviting and prosecuting corrupt government officials and politically exposed persons,” the Coalition said.

The Coalition expressed concerns over the declining levels of autonomy and integrity of the judiciary which it insists must be addressed, stressing that the National Judicial Council must diligently monitor its members and promptly remove any corrupt judicial officer found to be compromising the judicial system, adding that by doing so, it will significantly contribute to the restoration of sanity and the promotion of accountability within the nation.

It also said that to truly establish a flourishing democracy, transparency and accountability must be strictly adhered to in governance which required holding politicians accountable for their actions and inactions, strengthening institutions to combat corruption, and ensuring that the allocation of resources is done in a fair and equitable manner.

The Coalition said that only through these measures can Nigeria overcome its socio-economic challenges and build a democracy that truly serves the interests of the citizens.

The groups particularly urged the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and other political parties to take decisive action in purging its ranks by denouncing and breaking support with their members who are currently being investigated by anti-corruption agencies.

It further said; “This can be operationalised by suspending all members tainted by corruption allegations and ensuring they are held accountable before the law.

“​Adequate resource allocation to the Anti-corruption Agencies has become imperative to uphold their independence and enhance efficiency in the anti-corruption process.

“It is essential to prioritise adequate funding and support for anti-corruption agencies to prevent corruption and promote accountability. Through this, the present administration will demonstrate its commitment to fighting corruption.

“​Religious leaders have a unique platform to influence their followers and promote ethical behaviour. They can use their sermons, teachings, and religious texts to emphasize the importance of honesty, transparency, and accountability in all aspects of life.

“By speaking out against corruption and promoting integrity, they can help shape the moral compass of their communities and inspire individuals to resist the temptation of engaging in corrupt practices.

“Community leaders, such as local government officials, traditional chiefs, and grassroots activists play a vital role in combating corruption. They are often the first line of defence against corrupt practices at the local level and can work to create a culture of transparency and accountability within their communities. By leading by example and holding themselves and others accountable for their actions, they can help build trust and foster a sense of collective responsibility for combating corruption.

“Opinion leaders, including journalists, academics, and social media influencers, have the power to shape public discourse and raise awareness about the negative impacts of corruption. By using their platforms to expose corrupt practices, hold public officials accountable, and advocate for anti-corruption measures, they can help mobilize public opinion and pressure governments to take action against corruption,” the Coalition stressed.

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