FG traces looted funds to US, UK and other European countries.

The Federal Government has started tracing looted Nigerian funds to foreign countries with the aim of retrieving them.
This move came after the declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari on his first day in Aso Villa office that he inherited an almost empty treasury from his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, thus vowing that his administration would recover all the looted funds kept in foreign banks by corrupt Nigerians.
The President was quoted as saying in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best,”
Some of the countries where looted funds from Nigeria have been kept in the past include Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Others are France, Germany, British Virgin Islands and other tax havens spread across the globe.
Adesina, who confirmed the move in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, said, the search for the looted funds will not be limited to these countries but anywhere in the world where they may be hidden.
He said,
“The search will not only cover UK, US, Switzerland, Germany and other known havens for Nigerian looted funds but will cover everywhere under the sun. Anywhere and everywhere that the looted funds are, we have an assurance from the United States of America to assist us to repatriate these funds from anywhere under the sun.”
It was learnt that the Federal Government’s investigation was meant to identify the individuals who were involved in corrupt practices and ascertain the sums of money involved with a view to retrieving them.
Anti-corruption agencies will also play a prominent role in the exercise targeted at corrupt government officials in the recent past administration and their private sector collaborators, among others.
To this end, Adeniyi said that the Federal Government is planning to engage the services of foreign private investigators to help trace and find looted funds belonging to the people of Nigeria.
“Everything that needs to be done to get all those funds repatriated will be done, including engaging private investigators,” the Presidential spokesperson added.
Buhari had lamented that officials of the recent past government jettisoned all financial and administrative instructions put in place in parastatals and agencies while embracing impunity, lack of accountability and financial recklessness in the management of national resources.
This, the President said, had thrown the country into financial crisis.
The foreign search, which is expected to be thorough, will, among others, be directed at foreign banks with the ultimate aim of getting incontrovertible facts and figures that can aid the government in collaboration with the US and other members of the G7 nations to recover stolen funds stashed abroad.
Adesina said the identification of foreign banks being used to stash stolen funds was one of the mandates given to Buhari during a meeting he had with President Barak Obama at the recent G-7 summit in Germany.
He said,
“When the President met with the G7, the promise that the American President gave him was that Nigeria should just provide all the facts, the figures, the statistics, including the banks.
“He promised that if Nigeria could make the information available, then the US will help in recovering the stolen funds.”
When asked specifically if the Federal Government had started identifying the banks, the presidential spokesman said,
“Yes. In fact, the President said the government will spend the next three months identifying banks, individuals and monies that have been ferried out of this country.
“The assurance the President has given is that within the next three months, we have to concentrate on getting those monies back to the government coffers,” he added.
Buhari had said early in the week that his administration had received firm assurances of cooperation from the US and other countries in his quest to recover and repatriate funds stolen from Nigeria.
Buhari, while granting audience to members of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had said that it was now up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort.
He said he would be busy, in the next three months, getting the facts that would help in recovering the stolen funds.
“In the next three months, our administration will be busy getting those facts and the figures to help us recover our stolen funds in foreign countries,’’ the President had said.
The Federal Government may also go after property owned by public fund looters in London, Dubai, US, Saudi Arabia and other choice international real estate markets where Nigerians are known to be some of its biggest buyers.
It was also learnt that the Department for International Development, a UK government department responsible for administering overseas aid, had alerted the President on over N1.3tn stolen during the last administration, where it is kept and who the beneficiaries are.
“This was one of the agreement reached between President Buhari and the G7 countries when the former attended the meeting in Germany,” the DFID source said.
The US in March 2014 had ordered a freeze on $458m in assets stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and his accomplices. Abacha died in office in 1998.
The US Justice Department named two bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and two other accounts in France as depositories of $313m and $145m Abacha loot respectively. Four other investment portfolios and three bank accounts in Britain were also frozen, with an estimated value of at least $100m.
President Buhari said the last administration mismanaged the economy while stating that it was a disgrace that state governments in the country can’t pay salaries; hence, the need to recover looted funds wherever they may be hidden.
Chief Olu Falae, commended the move and described it as laudable and desirable, he expressed the belief that looted funds could be recovered because the whole world is now talking about promotion of transparency in governance.
“If some monies could be recovered from Abacha loot in the recent past, then it will be possible to recover looted funds from others as well,” he said.
The former minister, however, urged the President to follow due process while going after the looted funds.
Falae said,
“It is just that we have to follow due process because we cannot force the countries where the looted funds were stashed to return them because they are not subject to our authorities. But if we follow due process, it might be possible for us to recover those monies.
“The monies should not just be recovered; they should be used to develop the country. There should be no exception; anybody who has looted the public fund should be made to return it. Not only monies stashed abroad should be recovered, those stolen and kept in the country should also be recovered. I wish the President good luck in his move to achieve this initiative.”
Also, the Convener of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, asked Buhari to follow the normal channel through mutual legal assistant treaty that Nigeria has with the countries where such monies were stashed, if he really wants the stolen funds repatriated.
He said, “The President may succeed if he invokes the letter of the mutual legal assistant treaty, but I am not sure Nigeria has such with Switzerland although that country has been voluntarily returning Abacha loot to Nigeria.
“There are several other countries that may not be willing to return the volume of the money that was kept in their banks by the looters except there is international status that Nigeria can invoke to compel them to repatriate the fund.
“Nigeria has to go through legal process except it was one of the wish list that Buhari presented to the G7 countries. We have expressed it in some fora that we expected that Buhari would make it the top of his agenda at the G7 summit in Germany that he should get the G7 to cooperate with Nigeria on how not to allow looted funds by Nigeria’s public officials to be kept in their financial institutions.”
Adeniran also asked Buhari to prevail on the governments of the countries where the public funds were being stashed to assist Nigeria to expose those behind the practice.
He said, “Property acquired in those countries must also be investigated and if it is discovered that the property were procured through proceeds of corruption, they should be confiscated on behalf of Nigeria, sell them and repatriate the money to Nigeria.”
He said, “It is our hope that something positive will come out of it considering that the banks in the US and some other Western countries were part of the laundering. They collected money from corrupt Nigerians and as far as we know, their countries did nothing to make sure the banks do not collect stolen money from Nigeria.
“Those found culpable in looting our public funds should be tried in the law courts. It’s not enough to collect the stolen funds without any sanctions meted out to them to serve as deterrent to others. Punishments meted out to corrupt individuals are also not commensurate with the crime committed, and this should be corrected.”

SOURCE: Afro Naija com.

Okiro And Alleged Election Fund Fraud

Retired Inspector-General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro, hit the nail on the head over the hullabaloo regarding the N275.5million election fund fraud. He asserted that the whole scheme was an attempt to blackmail him.  


It is difficult to fault the genuine accounts of Mr. Okiro on this matter when he asserted, at a press conference, in Abuja on June 8, 2015, that “the PSC spent N217.3million of the money and that the remaining N132.6 million was returned to the commission’s project account”.  Mr. Aron Kaase, a Principal Administrative Officer, had claimed, in his petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), that “the money was part of the N350 million collected by the PSC for monitoring conferences and training of staff ahead of the March/April general election”.  As any rational mind must be able to attest, an Okiro-led PSC out to defraud the government would not have left a balance of the money in a special account of the PSC.  If the intention was to embezzle public funds, the N132.6million, left in a special account of the PSC, would have ended up in the private bank accounts of Mr. Okiro and other high officials of the PSC. Again, Mr. Okiro made the point that “because the approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) came late, we were able to conduct only one-day training, and the PSC staff were paid their allowances and Daily Travelling Allowance (DTA) for the exercise and their entitlements for the journey to the states for the monitoring”.  Mr. Kaase had said “that instead of the four-day approval granted by the Bureau of Public Procurement, a mock training of two hours was conducted at Northgate Hotels Limited, Mararaba, Nasarawa State instead of Kano State”.  However, an objective appraisal of the two positions stated here shows that while Okiro is right, Mr. Kaase is wrong.  If approval for the trainings were granted only a few days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, was it still feasible to conduct a four day training exercise?  Of course, it does not take any superior intellect to appreciate the fact that the only reason a balance of N132.6 million was left in a special account of the PSC was because a four-day training exercise was reduced to one. In any case, what point did Mr. Kaase set out to make when he claimed that “Okiro has failed to refund the money granted for the other three days in his request letter?”  If, as things are becoming clearer by the day that there is a N132.6 million balance from the N350 million in a special project account of the PSC, what kind of money refund is Mr. Kaase talking about?  Is Mr. Okiro expected to refund monies already paid to the contracting firms to conduct the one-day training exercise?  Is Mr. Okiro required to repay the funds he had already deployed to paying for the allowances and DTA of the PSC staff who travelled to the states to monitor police performance, during the 2015 general elections? What really is the problem for which Mr. Okiro is being antagonised by Mr. Kaase? In the final analysis, the point just has to be made that Mr. Kaase’s tantrums against Mr. Okiro, in the name of idle petitions to the ICPC and the EFCC, over the alleged mismanagement of the sum of N350 million, remains a failed blackmailing scheme.  There is nothing in the petitions against Mr. Okiro that should warrant the ICPC and the EFCC wasting their scarce resources in the name of investigating the mismanagement of funds earlier earmarked for training monitors and monitoring of police officers engaged for the 2015 general elections.  Mr. Okiro was being charitable, to a fault, when he wasted precious time and energy he ought to have deployed to the service of the nation, as the Chairman of the PSC, to granting an unnecessary press conference expected to counter the mischievous concoctions of Mr. Kaase.

SOURCE: Daily Independent.

Reduce Cost Of Governance Now

Last week, a group of legal luminaries reportedly declared that President Muhammadu Buhari does not need to appoint a minister from each state of the federation to satisfy the provision of Section 147 of the 1999 constitution. The lawyers made this declaration, agreeing with the Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee (TC) recommendation that the size of the Federal Executive Council should be reduced, decrying the widespread misconception that the president is under obligation to have at least 36 ministers in his cabinet.

We cannot agree less with the position of these lawyers, considering the need to reduce the cost of governance at this point which cannot be over emphasised.

In fact, it would be a welcome development if President Buhari is to accept and implement the said recommendation reducing the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) which consume more than 70 percent of the federal budget through recurrent expenditure.  This is germane if President Buhari must have enough resources to deliver on his electioneering promises to Nigerians.

There is no gainsaying that the cost of running government in Nigeria, not just at the federal but also at state level is too high, due to the ostentatious life style of political office holders. It is unfortunate that Nigerian politicians see political offices as meal tickets rather than an opportunity to serve.

This was why, Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, Chairman, Investigation Panel on Election Violence and Civil Disturbances in 2011, recommended that former President Goodluck Jonathan restructures the National Assembly by making members of the two legislative houses sit only on a part-time basis. The report noted: “What these legislators take from the public coffers under the guise of allowances, whether in terms of their oversight function or travelling or any other allowance, cannot be justified by the relevant provisions of the Constitution in this regard”.

Just recently, the media was awash with the news of an outrageous N17 million allowances allocated to the federal legislators out of which N9 million was slated for wardrobe allowance. Besides, Nigerians are wondering if political office holders need the large fleet of cars in their convoys. Do governors need private jets? Do they need the stream of aids attached to them?  These  end up bloating government expenditure.

The truth is that with the current economic disposition of the country, these are not sustainable and contradict the economic indices in a country where majority of the citizens live below the poverty line. Certainly, government must address,  as a matter of priority, areas of waste so as to free funds for meaningful developmental ventures.

To do this, we urge the President to implement the Steve Oransaye report of 2012 which is a comprehensive blueprint on the fundamentals of reducing the cost of governance that the TC reportedly has also highlighted.

 SOURCE: Daily Independent.

Anti-graft agencies need radical overhaul

    FROM a slumberous and lethargic agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has undergone an overnight “transformation,” posturing as a formidable anti-corruption agency that now carries out its duties with renewed gusto. Having seemingly woken up from prolonged indolence, the agency has suddenly started arresting and arraigning men and women that only just recently seemed to be untouchable

Aside from “arresting” the former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, the anti-graft agency has grilled Martin Elechi, former governor of Ebonyi State, while also renewing interest in cases involving the former helmsmen of Enugu and Bayelsa states, Chimaroke Nnamani and Timipre Sylva, respectively. The list seems to be getting longer by the day.

However, no one should be deceived by this flurry of activities. They are merely signs of an ailing agency that is only flattering to deceive. For President Muhammadu Buhari to make a success of his avowed intentions to rid the country of rabid and endemic corruption, there is an urgent need to give the anti-graft agencies a shot in the arm. Together with its poor cousin, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the EFCC needs a radical overhaul to place it in a position where it will be able to fulfil its potentialities.

 For the past eight years, since the exit of the founding chairman of the commission, Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC has watched helplessly as the corruption that it was created to fight continues to eat deep into the body and soul of the country. During this period, the commission, especially under Ibrahim Lamorde, became so good at going after petty thieves and internet fraudsters that the real corrupt people who robbed the country blind had the freedom to flourish and commit more havoc.

Evidence that corruption climbed to heights hitherto unknown in this country could be found in the mindboggling scams that were recorded in various government agencies, especially in the oil sector, which is the mainstay of the country’s economy, for which nobody has so far been punished. It is sad that those who conspired to swindle the country out of N2.5 trillion in the name of fuel subsidy administration are still breathing the air of freedom today.

More than a year after the former Central Bank of Nigeria governor and current Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, was fired from his duty post for raising the alarm about a missing $20 billion, the issue has not been successfully sorted out. The forensic audit that was ordered to lay the matter to rest ended up raising more issues than it succeeded in addressing. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a cesspit of monumental corruption that even defied the constitution by refusing to remit revenues to the Federation Account, is still an object of a sustained clamour for a probe. What is important is the fact that only a hands-on approach by the government in the fight against corruption can produce the desired result.

The present discredited anti-graft structure should be overhauled. Larmode and ICPC’s Ekpo Nta, together with their inept teams, must go. Undoubtedly, getting it right in the crusade begins with the appointment of the right calibre of persons to head the two anti-graft agencies. Passion for the war is critical. This is where the names of tested and trusted hands such as Oby Ezekwesili (a former minister), Ishola Williams (a retired major general) and Abubakar Umar (a retired colonel) loom large, among others, if Buhari really wants to make a clean break with the sordid past. In addition, an Attorney General of the Federation, who shares Buhari’s creed of “killing corruption before it kills Nigeria” is inevitable.

Apart from effecting the necessary changes in the leadership of both the EFCC and ICPC, efforts should be made to strengthen them financially to be able to carry out their duties. The EFCC once famously claimed that it was no longer in a position to pay salaries, as its bank account had shrunk to just over a million naira. The report, however, was later denied, but starving the agency of funds over the years has been an effective way of emasculating it.

For the anti-graft war to be effective, efforts must also be made to strengthen the judicial processes for speedier adjudication of corruption cases. This can best be achieved if the idea of special courts mooted by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher, and a former EFCC boss, Farida Waziri, is accommodated in the Nigerian justice system. Special courts have become necessary because of the delays in the regular courts. How can it be explained that the case instituted against Nnamani in 2007 is just starting afresh now? Since the regular courts have failed so woefully, it is time to follow the examples of countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Kenya, which operate specialised courts for the trial of corruption cases.

Setting up these structures will, however, not necessarily lead to an effective anti-corruption crusade until the judges themselves perform their duties effectively. In many cases, they have been found to have compromised. In a few instances where they have been caught, the punitive measures have not exceeded dismissal. Going forward, judges found to have compromised should not only be dismissed, but should be tried and sentenced. By the time a few of them are jailed, it will serve as a deterrent to others. At the level of prosecution, the EFCC must ensure that it does its homework properly. Too many cases have been dismissed due to “want of diligent prosecution.”

Nigeria will only surmount the problem of corruption by building institutions. The level of graft in the developed countries today is low because people know that once they are involved in corruption practices, no matter their position in the society, they would be caught and punished. This is the surest way to reduce both the opportunities and incentives for corruption.


SOURCE: The Punch.

CACOL Tasks Ambode on Lagos Mega City Status

 By: Kayode Adelowokan 12:07 am, June 25, 2015.
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), on Wednesday, called on Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, to make sure things worked better for the people. CACOL is a group of civil society, community-based and other non-governmental organisations with the objective of fighting corruption and corrupt persons by any means possible at all levels in Nigeria.
The group, in a letter to Ambode, signed by its Executive Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, urged him to embark on projects that would alleviate the hardship of majority of the people. CACOL said though the rich had already had a fair share of the available opportunities, so the middle and lower classes hitherto deprived of same should be the focused on.
“We are urging your government not to equate Lagos State with the developed cities in the world, in the area of enacting policies, because our people do not have the exposure and advantages those of the advanced countries benefit from. The group said: “It is a known fact that an average Nigerian is living under two dollars a day; so how could such a person afford a housing unit that runs into tens of millions of naira? We enjoin your administration to build houses truly meant for the poor. Cheaper but durable building materials could be used. “We appeal to the Lagos State government to chart a new people-centred course which should be pursued to a logical end, where the people will be able to testify that they truly have a government of theirs. “The extent to which the elitist policies of the past administration negatively affected the masses cannot be over-emphasised and it is an unacceptable trend that should not continue.”
In the same vein, the group commended Ambode for his positive disposition to the plight of the Lagosians, especially with the declaration that residents of the state who lived in the Lekki axis would no longer pay tolls at the second toll point on the Lekki-Epe Expressway. “We must also commend your government on the recent shake-up in the civil service – including the Lagos State Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This shake-up is a tidy development. “We, however, would want to advice the government not to stop the shake-up but ensure that the searchlight is beamed on other agencies of the Lagos State Government. “Worthy of mention is Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) that is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining roads in Lagos State with the Lagos State Ministry of Works that is to construct and reconstruct bad roads. It is no news that these agencies are not fully awake to their responsibilities. As a matter of fact, they have made it impossible for most state roads to be motorable as alternative to Federal Government roads. “In essence, bridges and flyovers need to be built in places where there had been perpetual traffic, internal roads in all parts of Lagos need to be fixed, and the ones tarred have to be resurfaced because many of them are riddled with potholes or bumps. “The Ministry of Education and SUBEB that are to maintain existing schools need to also be looked into. The Lagos State schools need total overhauling.
“Existing schools need rehabilitation, because there are no enough equipment, materials, furniture and other necessary facilities. Several of the schools don’t have sidewalls and windows while their personnel are poorly motivated morally, technically and materially. It is a shameful thing that pupils still sit on bare and broken floors in the so-called ‘Centre of Excellence’ schools,” the group. It also demanded that Ambode, look into the direction of those who are supposed to see to the drainage and continual drainage. Flash-flood is not supposed to be a perpetual thing the way your predecessor had always wanted Lagosians to accept it as a normal thing. “It is not normal for flood to wreck constant havoc on the people. Lasting solution must be found to the cause of such flashfloods because it endangers lives and properties and also disrupts economic activities in the state. A situation where traffic would become static amounts to wasting of several man hours on the road. Once it has been discovered that flashflood occurs in a particular place for a renewed time.
SOURCE: Daily Times.

Buhari should be revolutionary to win anti-graft war – Adeniran

Comrade Debo Adeniran1

Comrade Debo Adeniran, the National Executive Chairman of the Campaign Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) is one of the many Nigerians who  perceive  the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari  as Nigeria’s President on May 29, 2015 as a turning point for the country.

He, however, believes that for the President to win the anti-graft war, he should adopt a revolutionary approach to it

In this interview with Olisemeka Obeche, Comrade Adeniran examines the issue of anti-graft war in the country and  best way the Buhari administration should tackle it . Excerpts:

How best do you think the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari should wage the anti-graft war to achieve results?

To have a new beginning in this fight, the president, vice president and everybody in the Buhari government should make their asset declaration public without prompting. Then, the anti-corruption institutions should be empowered and be given the autonomy, even if not totally independent of the presidency but semi-independent in discharging their duties. That is to say that they should be free to exercise their prosecutorial powers. They don’t need to wait for instructions from the presidency or the Ministry of Justice to go after anybody suspected of any corruption dealings. In fact, there should be a separate tax force that would have the mandate to monitor the anti-graft agencies as well as other regulatory agencies like NAFDAC, SON and NDLEA whose operations should complement that of the anti-corruption institutions. This task force should include professionals from other fields such as lawyers, estate valuers, auditors, bankers and even anti-corruption monitors who would follow the cases up to ensure that the charges are well executed to secure conviction.

Government should also ensure that investigative officers are well protected and resourced so that they would be able to carry out due diligence and come up with damning evidence and credible witnesses against whoever is under prosecution to ensure they are properly convicted. They should also ensure that corruption charges are not watered down by the drafters of the charges. Sometimes, the agencies and the drafters of these charges deliberately water them down so that the culprits would have lesser punishment even if they are eventually convicted. That was what led to the lackluster prosecution of somebody like Yakubu Yusuf who confessed to have stolen up to N27billion and was eventually fined about N750, 000 after conviction which he promptly paid. That was also the kind of prosecution that the Igbinedion brothers enjoyed that ensured that earned them just N3 million fines despite stealing up to N25 billion each. The likes of Cecilia Ibru who stole so much but received little punishment also enjoyed similar treatment – watered down charges.

If those cases were closely monitored by a government task force, then there would be actual prosecution and with the witnesses well protected, you will bet that these people would actually get the kind of punishment they deserved. It is gratifying that the ‘Whistle-Blowers’ Protection Bill’ was passed before the expiration of the 7th National Assembly because that would go a long way in ensuring that those who volunteer to testify in high profile corruption cases are protected and not witch-hunted by those powerful leaders. Though, we have not seen the content of that whistle-blowers’ protection act but we believe that whatever may be its shortcomings, it is a step in the right direction and this new government should take further steps to strengthen it. With that in place, witnesses will be confident enough to give evidence in court because they know they are under state protection.

The anti-corruption institutions also need to be further strengthened with human and material resources that can enable them to deliver on their mandate, the anti-graft war would begin to bear good fruits. Imagine the difference it would make if the CCB is well equipped to be able to nail anybody that made false declaration of assets.

What about punishment the culprits?

We strongly condemn the slap on the wrist kind of punishment that was being handed to high profile corrupt offenders in this country. What we recommend is that anybody that is found guilty of massive corruption in Nigeria should be meant to spend the rest of his or her life behind bars. And they should not just be there feeding fat on tax payers’ money. No, they should be forced to work hard for the rest of their lives behind bars. They should be able to offer services or work that is related to their professional training. For instance, if you are an accountant by profession, you can offer free accountancy services for the federal government inside the prison; same as architect, quantity surveyor, engineer, auditor, writers and any other professional jobs. If you are a farmer, nothing stops the government from utilizing your expertise during your period of incarceration. And the finished products or proceeds of it can be used to sustain prison inmates as well as people in the larger society. By so doing, they can add value to the system.

Then there should be a law that stipulates that as soon as you are indicted of corruption, everything you have acquired through corrupt means should be confiscated by the state and frozen until they prove their innocence. Even though they should be granted access to certain percentage of their income or granted allowances to take care of their expenses or families during period of trial, they should be monitored by the authority to ensure that they don’t make use of their enormous ill-gotten wealth to seek evasion of justice.

Also, a special court should be established to speed up corruption trials and stop this issue of unnecessary delays in litigation of high profile corrupt cases. The issue of unnecessary technicalities should not be allowed to slow the pace of the trial. In addition to having special courts for corruption, there should be a special time frame for adjudication of corruption cases. That would save us from the entanglement of frivolous injunctions that cause delay in corruption trials.

I believe that if these measures are taken, everybody would know that there is no hiding place for corrupt people in the system and do the right thing. We also strongly recommend that the Buhari government should develop a national ideology that would specify how much wealth one can acquire even if you have legitimate access to it. There should be a limit to how many houses, cars and other choice properties an individual can own, even if he has legitimate means to acquire them. Such wealthy individuals should be made to deploy certain percentage of their wealth for public goods, such as using them for social responsibilities, charity, endowment foundation or taking care of the needy in the society. You can decide to be changing your cars every year but keeping fleets of cars or buying houses in every nooks and crannies of the country or outside the country should be discouraged. The state should monitor all these things and use either tax laws or legal means to discourage such stupendous acquisition of wealth because it doesn’t help the society. There should also be a limit to the kind of goods people can import into the country so as to boost locally made products. If you have money you should establish factories and business ventures that cannot only produce goods and services in the country but create jobs for the teeming masses. When people are allowed to steal money from our common purse and launder abroad to buy choice properties or lodge in secret bank accounts, our economy suffers. Even those who engage in wanton importation of foreign made goods and services to showcase their wealth and splendor are not helping our economy either. And efforts should be made to stop all these madness if the anti-corruption crusade would succeed. It should be a crime for anybody to engage in primitive accumulation of wealth. You don’t have to amass what you don’t need. People should be given national awards based on how much they contributed to the national economy and GDP, not how much personal wealth they have or how deeply connected they are in the political system.

It is by so doing that we can have less inclination to corruption in our society because everybody would focus on making honest living and using whatever wealth they acquires for the greater good of the society rather than bestriding the country showing off their ill-gotten wealth like colossus. With that, many wealthy individuals would be forced to buy equipment for schools, set aside certain percentage of their wealth as endowments for researches and scholarships for advancement of knowledge in the society. Others would build houses, hospitals or supply hospital equipment, build roads or other social amenities as well as business ventures that would benefit the society. We have to do away with the current trend that kills job in Nigeria and create jobs in other countries. When these political leaders know that they can’t take our money to overseas without being tracked and prosecuted, they would be forced to spend it in the country and on things that add values in the society. It should be made a criminal offence, liable to life imprisonment, if you lead a government parastatal or agency into bankruptcy. When people who head government institution know that they are not there for jamboree or dip their hands on the pie rather than to run the institutions as viable business entity, we will stop having failed entities. We ought to have sent those who presided over all our failed enterprises to life imprisonment to serve as a deterrent to others that heading government institutions carries huge responsibilities as well as greater consequences like jail terms.

That would make everybody to be careful and be prudent in management of public resources. But we have a scenario where these guys mess up everything and still go scotch free. They keep acquiring debts just like what Pentascope did in the guise of bailing NITEL out. We must ensure that people don’t just run down government institutions. The Nigerian railway wouldn’t have collapsed if people were not given the leeway to mismanage those vital institutions and get away with it; same as the Nigerian Airways. Our system should be restructured in such a way that anybody that tries to sabotage it would face the full wrath of the law no matter how highly placed the individual is. With such, we can deal with the problem of pipeline vandalism, theft of power installations and all kinds of high-powered corrupt dealings in public sector.

Nigeria should also establish into mutual legal assistant treaty with all countries of the world to ensure that nobody that steals money in this country can run outside and hide without being repatriated to face justice. All these things are fueling unemployment, creating insurgency, kidnapping and other kinds of violent crimes that are keeping Nigeria on the edge. So, the present government should realize the dangers corruption pose to this country and take drastic measures to nip it in the bud.

There are strong fears that President Buhari may find it difficult to maintain his sanctimonious stance and effectively tackle corruption in the top political echelon given the tendency that many of those who sponsored his campaigns  have corrupt tendencies. Do you share similar sentiments?

Well, we believe that if there are no bugs that bite political leaders to make them change their attitudes, then a Buhari should not change. If the head of a fish is not rotten, you should be sure that the body would still be useful for the purpose it is meant. The Buhari that we know is an epitome of discipline and an anti-corruption crusader and we believe that he can give corruption its biggest fight in Nigeria. But President Buhari needs that revolutionary spirit in him to succeed in this anti-graft war because there are many bobby traps in the system he has just stepped into. He should not behave as a politician but as a revolutionary soldier on a special mission. And that is why we are satisfied with his inaugural speech, especially that portion where he said “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. It is a strong signal that he is not in power to continue with business as usual style of politicking. But he should follow that up with actions.

We are also satisfied with the statement he sent to the state governors over his ministerial appointment issues. His insistence ‘Don’t appoint my ministers and I won’t appoint your commissioners’ is a strong statement that we need to drive home the point that change needs to take place in our polity. But strong words need to be backed with strong actions. He made similar strong statements when he made a covenant with Nigerians that he would declare his assets within his 100 days in office; but we are yet to see the fulfillment of that promise. We still urge him to back his words with action.

Now, if you promised that you are going to make your asset declaration public, it is at your discretion to do so not that of the CCB. As a matter of fact, Buhari could have made his asset declaration public even before submitting the forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau, just to fulfill that aspect of his pre-election promise. That would give us hope that things are going to work the way you promised. Nobody would have tried him if he made his asset declaration form available to the media from the outset. It would strengthen our faith in him. The vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo could have done same thing.

Another signal that accentuates our fears at the moment is that there are several public officials from the past administration that has corruption charges against them and we expect them to be brought to justice as soon as possible. But President Buhari has told us that he is not going to stop anybody from travelling out of the country, thereby offering them leeway to escape the country. Even if the Nigerian government can bring them back from wherever they ran to, it will cost the country extra money to do so. We need to first of all negotiate with the countries they ran to, stop their asylum application effort based on credible evidence you supply them before you can successfully repatriate them. Incidentally, all these processes will cost us valuable resources. So, we think the decision to grant them access to leave the country sends a wrong signal. We strongly suspect that such statement might be a dictate from the political allies and that heightens our fears. If you have reasons to fraternize with corrupt elements and you know deep down in your heart that such people are corrupt, then you don’t have to pander to the dictates of such class of people. You have to take up the toga of a revolutionary to be able to win the war.

If you were President Buhari, where and how would you kick-start your anti-corruption war?

First and foremost, I will start with open declaration of my assets. As soon as I finished filling the forms, I will send it to the media to publish for every Nigerian to see; because I will be afraid that the CCB can keep it secret. And somebody can go to court to get an injunction to force me not to make it public. No law bars the president from doing so from the moment he computed his assets. After declaring mine, I will tell my deputy to follow suit; and that if he doesn’t comply, I will presume him to be corrupt and start the anti-corruption crusade with him. He will definitely be forced to toe that line.

Then, anybody that is penciled down for political appointment in my cabinet, either as minister, special assistant or adviser would be told to go and declare their assets ab initio before being formally appointed. And I will make sure that it is well advertised in the media so that nobody claims to be ignorant of that before deciding to join my cabinet. Once you declare your assets and submit the publication of your asset declaration to my office for proper documentation, then you are ready to come on board. Without that, you are not welcomed. That would be the impetus to choose from those set of people who are relatively honest in the society than others.

After that, I will approach the National Assembly with a bill to strengthen the anti-corruption laws, including customs and exercise laws, SON, NDLEA, NAFDAC regulatory laws etc. to make them more effective and independent in their operations. Then I will now go to the anti-corruption and regulatory agencies and conduct organizational diagnosis and weed out bad eggs in the system. As part of the restructuring, everybody management official in such agencies must undergo mandatory asset declaration, just like political appointees and must embrace the anti-corruption philosophy of the regime in all ramification. Then, the government would make sure that enough resources are pumped into those agencies to enable them carry out their assignments. And from time to time, anybody that is found to be living above his or her means would be sent to the ICPC for questioning and possible prosecution.

Beyond that, every private sector firm that wishes to do business with government must declare what they have done with government or its agencies and parastatals before. If you are found to have been involved in bribery scandal or shoddy dealings with government, you will no longer be considered for government contract. If you have the propensity to collude with corrupt elements in the public system to defraud government, you will be banned from receiving government contract.

What of those contractors who wish to repent, will they be forgiven?

Well, the truth is that if you have been found to have engaged in misconducts in the past and still want to work with government by embracing the new regime’s anti-corruption crusade, you must first of all divulge yourself of the past criminal acts and recompense. It is after that that you can now be reconsidered on a plain sheet. It is on the basis of the fact that you accepted that what you have done in the past was criminal and wrong and do the recompense that you can be given a clean bill of health or granted amnesty.

However, I will make a public declaration that everybody that has defrauded government in the past, in whatever way and amount has been given 21 days grace and ultimatum to return them and be granted pardon or be prepared to face the full wrath of the law. Anybody who is found culpable after the expiration of the ultimatum could spend the rest of his or her life behind bars without option of fines. However, those who come forward and return what they have stolen would have their penalty discounted; but the fact remains that no sinner would go unpunished. Even if it is going to be one month, two weeks or community service, everybody that has been found to have committed corruption crime will face one punishment or the other. But if you now wait for the state to spend more money in fishing you out as one of those that defrauded the system, then you should be ready to face the maximum penalty due for such offences. The same thing applies to corporate organizations. ICPC would be empowered to be able to trace and fish out anybody or organization that has engaged in corrupt practices in collusion with public officials. So, the government would not hesitate to withdraw registration certificate of any private enterprise that is found to be engaged in corruption dealings with government and deal with only those that are above board.

That would encourage the growth and thriving of genuine businesses in the country as well as engender open and competitive bidding for public contracts. This is the kind of treatment we expect for those petroleum firms that took part in the petroleum subsidy scams which includes taking subsidy claims without importing petroleum products. Let them face the maximum penalty so that the nation can turn a new page. So, amnesty would be given to those that have genuinely repented and paid recompense as we don’t have enough prison facilities to accommodate all the corrupt elements that would be nabbed in this country. So, amnesty and community service becomes an appropriate restitution for them.

Then the final phase would be strengthening the anti-corruption agencies with funding, trainings and adequate legal protection to do their job without fear or favour. There would also be rewards for those who perform their jobs excellently well.

SOURCE: The Economy.

It’s difficult to prosecute ex-governors – Adeniran

It’s difficult to prosecute ex-governors – Adeniran

Comrade Debo Adeniran, an anticorruption crusader is the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL). He spoke with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE


Why is it difficult for the anti-graft agencies to prosecute and convict ex-governors for corruption-related offences? Governors enjoyed immunity and therefore they were able to cover their tracks while in office. The anti-graft agencies are not allowed to investigate governors while in office and because of that a lot of things were swept under the carpet.

The anti-graft agencies must be given independence to investigate governors while in office and the reports should be made public. Even if the anti-graft agencies cannot prosecute them while in office because of immunity, we should have the result of their investigations with which the agencies can prosecute governors when they lose their immunity. Why is it easy for anti-graft agencies to prosecute and convict ‘small thieves’ unlike ex-governors? The ‘small flies’ don’t wield any influence because they don’t have enough money to buy their ways through when they are being prosecuted.

The ‘small flies’ are also open to intimidation, threat and they don’t have money to hire quality lawyers unlike the Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) who have the influence and resources to defend or protect themselves. Why do you think some of the ex governors are not usually convicted by the judiciary?

The Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) usually rely on the judiciary to prevent them from being convicted. Each time the anti-graft agencies make attempt to prosecute some of the former governors, they run to the trial judges who will agree with them and rule that anti-graft agencies don’t have jurisdiction or the judges will give the PEPs opportunity to travel out of the country for medical attention.

The judge would also grant frivolous injunctions and orders after they might have been settled. The judiciary on many occasions have been compromised and we are just hoping that they would be better under the present administration.

SOURCE: New Telegraph.


Group kicks against removal of oil subsidy

 Executive Chairman, Coalition against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, has warned the government against from subsidy removal adding that government doesn’t have business in deregulating the petroleum sector; rather they should rather make petroleum products generally available.

In an interview with Sunday Mirror, Adeniran said it would be like supporting government’s inefficiency if deregulation is given a nod. He reminded government that diesel had been deregulated for years but that it had not led to any positive change in pricing.

“Government should produce enough fuel for local consumption; however, the private sector should be given the opportunity to partake in the oil business. They should be allowed to sell the products the way they want, even if they like they should be exporting refined products, but they should not be allowed to sell higher than the price government sells to Nigerians.

“Our argument has been that it should not be completely deregulated but partially regulated that is 75 per cent of the petroleum industry should not be deregulated; only 25 [per cent should be deregulated to the extent that all the by-products even from private and local industries would be received by government and the prices would be controlled”.

He said lack of transparency and accountability in our petroleum industry has grossly undermined the economy in recent years.

SOURCE: National Mirror.

Adeniran: Allowance retrogressive, insensitive

Comrade Debo Adeniran is a human rights activist and Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL)
It is like this present National Assembly is starting on the same note that the old regime left behind. Our argument hitherto has been that the jumbo allowances being paid members of the National Assembly be reduced.
Their pay and allowances should reflect the mood of the time in the country and they should lead by example. If they are given N9 billion wardrobe allowance, each member would have access to an average of N17 million when an average Nigerian cannot boast of one square meal in a day.
It is going to be lopsided and unreasonable for those who are elected to represent us with a view to making our lives better. The N9 billion allowance would be a wrong way to represent an impoverished people because what the people thought before they elected these lawmakers is that their representatives are already rich enough to take care of their own wardrobe.
Who are they trying to impress by the expensive wardrobe that they are paid? If the wardrobe is that high, then what is it going to be when it comes to furniture, car and other allowances? It means Nigerians should expect a shocker for those ones because the cost would be too outrageous and insensitive.
It is apparent that our so-called representatives are not in tune with what the situation in the country is. Naira is daily depreciating, industries are folding up and majority of the youth do not have jobs.
It is high time the lawmakers realised that the youth look up to them as role models and as long as they (the youth) are not able to match the standard expected of them, they would feel inferior and inadequate and that sense of inadequacy would lead to them thinking of short-cut to success, which is the major reason for the high crime rate in our country.
It is very appalling and unfortunate that the present administration is starting on a note like this despite the promise of change before they got to power.
It is preposterous that the National Assembly of a country that has a preponderance of its citizens living below poverty line could set aside a whooping N9 billion as wardrobe allowance.
Earmarking such a humongous amount for such frivolous purpose is the highest height of insensitivity on the part of the lawmakers to the plight of the country as a whole.This is a government Nigerians are expecting to cut salaries and emoluments of its officers.
This makes one to wonder if this new administration is sincerely ready to live up to its promise of a better Nigeria for all and sundry. In essence, the action of the lawmakers is not only reprehensible, but retrogressive and must be condemned by every well meaning Nigerians.

SOURCE: New Telegraph.

Lawmakers’ Allowances, An Embarrassment – Nigerians

By Augustine Adah, Lagos

Reactions to the disclosure that members of the 8th National Assembly would get about N9 billion as wardrobe allowance were spontaneous.  Several Nigerians, including lawyers and civil society organisations, expressed disgust over the amount earmarked in view of present economic realities in the country.

Bruce Murray    Melaye

The Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Comrade Debo Adeniran, described the development as very discouraging to the new government.

“It is very unfortunate that the present administration is starting on a note like this despite the promise of change before they got to power,” he said.

Adeniran  said that the National Assembly members have left nobody in doubt of the fact that they don’t have the interest of common Nigerians at heart by setting such a whooping amount as wardrobe allowance.

“It is preposterous that the National Assembly of a country that has a preponderance of its citizens living below poverty line could set aside a whooping N9 billion as wardrobe allowance.

Earmarking such an  amount for such frivolous purpose is the height of insensitivity to the plight of the country and the entire Nigerians.

This is a government Nigerians are expecting would cut salaries and emoluments of its officers.”

Speaking further on the matter, Adeniran said: “Therefore, the action of the lawmakers is not only reprehensible but retrogressive and must be condemned by every well-meaning Nigerians.”

Also, Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Comrade Idris Abdul, has described the N9 billion wardrobe allowance for National Assembly as outrageous and should be slashed.

According to Abdul, the country is going through a critical moment where the revenue  is falling which demands that everybody must be prepared to make sacrifice at this crucial time.

“In view with the economic reality of our country at the moment, the amount is too much and must be reduced,” he said.

Abdul further stated that though the job of National Assembly is crucial to the growth of the country, other groups and arms of government also contribute their own quota to the development of the country.

“It is not only National Assembly members, civil servants also work and generates revenue for the country; they too must be considered when it comes to allowances and increment of salaries.”

The human rights activist expressed fear over the current National Assembly under Bukola Saraki  as Senate President  to fight corruption based on his antecedent.

“I doubt if the Senate under Saraki would be able to fight corruption because of his previous cases with EFCC.”

He urged members to make sacrifice because the country is finding it difficult to pay staff salaries and other challenges.

Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West senatorial zone, has also condemned the N8.64 billion the National Assembly has earmarked as wardrobe allowance for the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, while at the same time, defending the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Nigerian Senate.

The senator said it was morally wrong to pay such money to legislatures when people are hungry and solicited for the downward review of the allowance.

In his view, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Joseph Nwobike said it was unconscionable that such was happening at this critical state in the nation’s history.

He said: “Well, to me, this is a sign post that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will fail. I mean, APC was hypocritical because this is a party that has been professing change. Look at what happened at the National Assembly leadership election last week. It is a sign that APC’s chances of success are doubtful.

“I mean APC appears to be disoriented and the change mantra on the basis of which they came into power may just be symbolic. It is unconscionable that we as a nation are witnessing proposal of N9 billion for wardrobe allowance for legislators under a party which said it would fight corruption and impunity.

“Well, I congratulate those that will be changing their wardrobe and I urge them that in doing so, they should patronize our local products, so that they can grow our economy,” Nwobike said sarcastically.

Miffed by the plight of civil servants who are being owed arrears of salaries, a members of National Assembly from Bayelsa East Senatorial District, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, has promised to donate part of his wardrobe allowance to the unpaid workers in Osun State.  He made this known via his Twitter handle. Daily Independent gathered that for about seven months now, workers in the Osun State civil service are yet to be paid their salaries.   Murray-Bruce promised that whenever the wardrobe allowance is paid, he would give half of the amount to Osun State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) who would use the money to settle part of salaries owed workers in the state, and the remaining half to widows in Akassa community of Bayelsa State.

The Senator said: “I, Ben Murray Bruce, will not sit down idly, while my fellow citizens die because salaries have not been paid. As a first step, I am immediately donating my wardrobe allowance to unpaid workers in Osun State and widows in my Constituency. We are starting in Osun, but we will not end there. I will do as much to help workers who have  not been paid in other states.”

He, however, called on his friends and followers to make contributions to alleviate the plight of the workers.

However, the move does not go down well with Osun State government.  In a swift reaction, the Osun State government lampooned the lawmaker, saying he was playing to the gallery just as he said he (Murray-Bruce) was trivialising the issue.

Reacting to the public condemnation, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki explained that the allowance of National Assembly members was fixed by Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) in consonance with the economic reality of the country at the moment.

He further stated that a plan was in the offing to reduce salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly.

SOURCE: Daily Independent.