By Benprince Ezeh
AHMAD Lawan, president of the senate, has said that the anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement agencies should be independent, well-funded, and open to oversight and public scrutiny.
He said that the Senate Committees on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, as well as that on Judiciary, were carrying out legislative actions to enhance the effectiveness of the agencies saddled with the task of preventing corruption.
In his goodwill message on the occasion of the 2nd national summit on diminishing corruption in the public sector, held in Abuja on September 28, the senate president said that the government would ensure that more impetus was given to agencies in the enforcement sector of fighting corruption.
“I recognize the enormity of the effort put in by the organizers of this second edition of the summit on how to diminish corruption in our country, especially the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in alliance with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
He disclosed that the role of parliamentarians globally in the fight against corruption can be underscored by the speedy passage of various legislations that have been crucial in the anti-graft war such as the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, the NFIU Act, the annual Appropriations Act bringing our budgeting cycle to run from January to December and the Deep Offshore & Inland Basin PSC (Amendment) Act, 2019 to mention but a few.
He added that because of “our constitutional powers of oversight, we have become conversant with the matrix of corruption and are then able to put together a robust legal framework to criminalize all manifestations of graft in and out of government.
“To support this fight against graft, we have our Legislative Anti-Corruption Strategy, LACS, which seeks to do three things namely provide robust legislation, conduct vigilant oversight and carrying out inquiries and investigations to expose corruption wherever it’s found,” Lawan said.
According to him, various committees, especially the Senate Committees on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, as well as that on Judiciary, are carrying out legislations actions to enhance the effectiveness of agencies saddled with the task of preventing corruption.
“We are also carrying out legislative activities to streamline the processes of the criminal justice system and the capacity of the prosecutors to get a fast-tracked process for the prosecution of offenders, successful convictions and seizure of their assets.
“I am confident that this Legislative Anti-Corruption Strategy, will bestow more independence, provide more operational funds and assist in making the wheel of justice to rotate faster.
“We are also looking at the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and specific provisions there that can be strengthened to make justice flow faster. For example, providing for the establishment of the Administration of Criminal Justice of Monitoring Commission. To achieve the aspirations of our strategy, we are examining the provision of a special body to handle corruption cases as requested for by Mr. President.
“We are, however, mindful of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, and focusing on the concept of Mandate Expansion of existing entities like the Public Complaints Commission, Code of Conduct Tribunal, amongst others, to accommodate the whistle-blower and witness protection, virtual hearing, Public Interest Disclosure to mention a few.
“Of great concern to us in the war against graft, is the management and disposal of seized assets. Resorting to the same concept of mandate expansion, we will be proposing a Forfeited Assets Management Authority that will handle both criminal and civil forfeitures,” Lawan said
– Sept. 29, 2020 @ 12:44 GMT /