The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Judge, Hon. Justice Agwadza William Atedze, has queried the use of public funds to buy vehicles for politicians.
The Justice counselled Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to research the issues, “To see how best we can reconcile our social and cultural values viz-a-viz the entire war against corruption and advise our policymakers accordingly.”
Justice Atedze said this on Wednesday at the launch of SERAP’s latest report titled Combating Grand Corruption and Impunity in Nigeria: An Agenda for Institutional Reforms in Anti-Corruption Strategies.
The report is published under a project to promote justice sector and anti-corruption oversight mechanism reform, which SERAP is undertaking in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USA.
Apart from Justice Atedze who represented the Chairman of the CCT, Hon. Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar at the report launch, other anti-corruption agencies that attended the event were the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Mr. Dauda Joki-Lasisi, Head of Procurement and Fraud Section of the EFCC who represented the agency at the report launch said that, “The fight against corruption can be likened to an allegory of a giant in the midst of ants, as little as an ant is, it may not be able to wear the trouser of a giant, but will remove it.”
The Head of ICPC Lagos Office Mr Olufemi Nofiu; and Mr T. Collins who represented the Chairman of the CCB, Mr Sam Saba echoed similar sentiments, promising to “Do anything and everything within their powers to curb corruption in the country in its entirety.”
All the anti-graft agencies renewed their commitment to work even harder to end the problem of grand corruption in the country and end its devastating consequences.
Chairman of the report launch Barrister Babatunde Ogala said that “Corruption is simply a way of life for us all, it is deep when you steal as a religious institution, you are as corrupt as any Nigerian. In my opinion, corruption is both cultural and religious, corruption is as big as this country, the way of curbing it, is by changing our national orientation.”
Barrister Ogala, who was former Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Judiciary, also said that “The EFCC ought to have offices even at the local government level. The society itself encourages and invests in corruption. As a legislator, I was constantly measured by what I did for individuals and not by the amount of law making I engaged in.”
The report contains several recommendations among which is the call to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen, to “Ensure that all judges fully utilise the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in the hearing of grand corruption cases before them.”
Among other key recommendations, the report urges Justice Onnoghen to “Ensure that judges, in situations where the ACJA rules apply, are made to follow the dictates of these innovative statutory interventions or face disciplinary action, and to incorporate into ongoing judicial training these crucial statutes and procedures as well as include the ACJA as part of the mandatory continuing legal education for all judges in Nigeria.”
The report also recommends that the Chief Justice and all other judges should also periodically disclose and publish their assets. The Chief Justice should promote full independence for the National Judicial Council including by allowing retired judges of proven integrity to lead the council.
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