The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, has called on the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, to push for the creation of anti-corruption agencies across the 36 states of the federation.
Speaking during a two-day workshop for representatives of state-led anti-corruption agencies, the CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said creating anti-corruption agencies in states would help fight corruption effectively.
He said: “Corruption affects us all. It threatens sustainable economic development and ethical values and justice; it destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law.
“It is, therefore, imperative that anti-corruption efforts are replicated and implemented at the state level and beyond. Nigerians need to own the process.”
Speaking at the workshop, Mr Rafsanjani who heads Transparency International in Nigeria, said the program was an opportunity to better understand the legal frameworks of existing state-level anti-corruption agencies which could serve as a guide to other states.
According to him, the existing state-level anti-corruption agencies will have an opportunity to pick out efforts to replicate, achievements and challenges that will be shared here by the federal anti-graft agencies.
He said: “We believe that it is therefore imperative for anti-corruption agencies as well as relevant stakeholders not to work in isolation but develop partnerships and collaborations aimed at providing synergy in our work which will make it more impactful and yield better results in the interest of Nigerians and Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Bathsheba Tagwai, the CISLAC’s Senior Legal Officer, stated that the workshop would explore the legal frameworks of existing agencies with a view to strengthen their capacity for institutionalising the anti-corruption efforts at the sub-national level.
The CISLAC legal officer also said the workshop was also an advocacy for replication of existing state-level anti-corruption agencies in other states in Nigeria.
According to her, following the example of Kano and Oyo states, more states are putting effort towards constituting independent anti-corruption commissions or their equivalent.
Also speaking during the workshop, Jonathan Ogunsanya, the Deputy Director Public Prosecution at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, said the state had enacted laws to establish its state anti-corruption agencies, adding that the process towards putting proper structure in place is in motion.
He, however, lamented that too much emphasis is given to the legal framework for anti-corruption saying that what was necessary at the moment was more of ethics and value re-orientation.
Olayanju Efo-Abasi, Chief Legal Officer of the Oyo Anti-Corruption Agency, stressed the need for states to develop their independent anti-corruption agencies, saying that doing so would strengthen the fight against corruption.
She, however, said that efforts must be put towards synergy and collaboration between agencies that tackle corruption issues.
On his part, a representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Iheanacho Ekele, noted that the need for more synergy in corruption fighting is key towards the total eradication of the menace in the country.
A member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Babakura Maina, said his state would be pushing for the creation of its anti-corruption agency.
According to him, the campaign for the creation of the agency should not only be limited to state governors, adding that state legislators too should be empowered and trained to see the importance of such legislation.
A representative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ude Nma Chioma, stated that the commission has created the Proceeds of Crimes Directorate to fight corruption in compliance with the POCA law.
She added that the commission has always been committed to working with relevant agencies to tackle corruption in the country.
On the other hand, Habibat Pat Eluameh, an Assistant Director from the Federal Ministry of Justice, stated that Nigeria, as a State party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), formed the National Strategy Plan 2017-2021. However, due to the discovery of gaps – as some states were not carried along, the strategy plan was extended to 2022-2026 to involve all states.
She expressed her eagerness to work with state-level anti-corruption agencies to implement the provisions of the National Strategy Plan 2022-2026.