The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has enjoined Nigerians to remain calm in the midst of current challenges facing the nation even as the nation prepares for the forthcoming elections.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, stated that, “It would be recalled that the we have few days left before the presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria, It will be the largest democratic exercise on the continent as Africa’s most populous nation picks a new president. The election, as important as it is, would take place even as the country battles myriad economic and security problems that range from fuel and cash shortages to rising terror attacks, high inflation, and a plummeting local currency.”
Inasmuch as we would like to commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its efforts to ensure a credible election through the adoption of innovative technologies such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) we cannot but express concern about existing predicaments like logistical difficulties of fuel and cash scarcity that could impact the integrity of the elections.
We all know that Fuel shortages and scarcity of the newly redesigned local currency have stirred violent protests in parts of Nigeria as millions of people struggle to get their hands on new versions of banknotes. The rising security concerns and frequent attacks on INEC facilities in the country is a challenge to the safety of voters and the integrity of the forthcoming election which is poised to become a seminal moment in the country’s political history.
We at CACOL would like to use this medium to call on all stakeholders with one thing or the other to do with the upcoming elections to put in their best so that we can have free, fair, and transparent elections. We would also like to call on the citizens to remain calm and allow the government to fix the myriads of problems bedeviling the country.
The CACOL Boss added, “To the contestants to various elective positions, we want them to know that they can only represent the people in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, we need peaceful elections to give democracy a boost in the country, hence the need for all the candidates, the party chairmen and members of all political parties, to respect the voice of Nigerians and embraced the politics of peace.”
BUHARI’S SPEECH: A PRECURSOR TO AUTOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has bemoaned President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech in which he regarded the N500 and N1,000 notes has ceased to be a legal tender in the country.
In a release issued by its Director, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “In the last couple of weeks, Nigerians have been facing the reality of scarcity of cash. Our banks are overwhelmed by angry customers demanding money, the ATMs are flooded with furious Nigerians struggling to withdraw cash, and some spend the whole day hoping to get a few Naira notes to pay bills. POS operators complain of lack of money; a few have charged between 15% and 20% to customers to get some cash”.
But to make matters worse, President Buhari in his recent speech to the nation illegalizes the N500 and N1,000 notes despite the Supreme court ruling extending the period the notes can be in circulation.
The CACOL head noted that “The Supreme Court can make pronouncement even on the President or whatever policy that emanates from the executive and because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is part of the executive, any pronouncement from the Apex court relating to the monetary policy of the land in particular and the CBN in general must be obeyed to the latter. The presidency is fast turning itself to the Judiciary. Since the pronouncement has ordinarily extended the period with which the old naira notes could be used, the president doesn’t have to review it pending the ruling of the Supreme Court. What the president has done is tantamount to contempt of court which is a kind of impunity and it is a precursor to rule of the thumb instead of rule of law”
Moreover, the principle of separation of powers clearly defines the limit of each arm of government. Taking the President’s speech into context, it shows president Buhari is gravitating towards dictatorship. The President ought to know by now that he cannot and he is not in a position to nullify the decision of the Supreme Court. If the executive is not pleased with the decision of the Court, the Attorney General of the Federation has the opportunity of going back to the Supreme Court to ask for a review of the earlier decision not that by Presidential fiat he would kind of set it aside without going back to the court.
Furthermore, the Attorney General who is supposed to be the Chief Legal Adviser in this administration doesn’t seem to deserve his license to operate as a legal practitioner anymore as he has become an embarrassment to the legal profession which he claims to represent. His credentials should be recalled and he should be sanctioned by the Body of Benchers.
The nonchalant attitude of the government which was displayed by the carefree speech delivered by the president has heightened the initial protests to full-blown riots in different parts of the country as we speak and the country is sliding rapidly into a state of anarchy. State governors are now giving counter directives to citizens of their states on what to do with the old notes and if different states are carrying out different policies as diverse and distinct from that at the centre then we can say that a state of anomie is imminent.
We at CACOL will like to use this medium to implore all stakeholders to respect the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers while urging the citizens to remain calm in the midst of the present uncertainties and allow the government to find a lasting solution to the present impasse.
CACOL COMMENDS PRESIDENT BUHARI FOR SIGNING THE BUSINESS FACILITATION BILL INTO LAW.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, hashailed President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the business facilitation bill into law.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “It was reported that the President has assented to the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 also known as the omnibus bill and five other bills passed by the National Assembly.
Presented as an executive bill, the business facilitation (miscellaneous provisions) act, 2023, is a legislative intervention by The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which amends 21 business-related laws, removing bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.
The new law also codifies executive order 001 on transparency and efficiency in public service delivery, aimed at strengthening ease of doing business reforms across the country.
The CACOL Chair opined that “we hope the signing of this bill into law will mark a turning point for ease of doing business, transparency, efficiency and productivity in the country. We all know that the country has been known for various bureaucratic bottlenecks when it comes to running a business, which has impeded so many entrepreneurs who would have established businesses that would thrive and absorb the teeming numbers of jobless youth in the country.”
“We therefore commend the 9th national assembly for its speedy consideration of this bill, and President Buhari for signing it into law as this singular action would boost the delivery of an enabling environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.”
“Ease of doing business will reduce the propensity to demand and give bribes before things are done. We also believe that when people have direct access to their own business, and they can do their business and make profits, the penchant to get involved in corruption will be reduced”
“We have always opined that if there were enabling laws, policies and a strong will to implement those laws, corrupt practices, and opacity in the business environment would be easily nipped in the bud.”
President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Aso Rock Villa, 3 Arms Zone
Garki – Abuja
Federal Republic of Nigeria
NIGERIA AT CROSSROADS OF THE NAIRA REDESIGN
For some days now, Nigerians have been facing the reality of scarcity of cash. Our banks are overwhelmed by angry customers demanding money, the ATMs are flooded with furious Nigerians struggling to withdraw cash, and some spend the whole day hoping to get a few Naira notes to pay bills. POS operators complain of lack of money; a few have charged between 15% and 20% to customers to get some cash. Most Nigerians are stranded because the bank apps for transfers need to be fixed, and most cannot make or receive transferred money. Naira notes are in high demand, and the newly redesigned notes are rare to get unless by a privileged few. There is confusion everywhere, and people are coming to terms with this reality.
However, the pressure this exerts on Nigeria’s fragile socio-political and economic conditions is enormous and gradually heading to a tipping point. Social media are awash with harrowing videos of people’s reactions in various parts of Nigeria, and they all point to the pervading rage, frustration, and hardship people are going through. All these are happening at a time of heightened political activities near the 2023 general elections, with various permutations, intrigues and strategies of political parties and their candidates to win the voters. Without being the intendment of this letter to you, the current situation is a recipe for upheaval if not checked. The political ramifications of the Naira redesign are evident, but the implications, intended and unintended consequences, are unfolding.
A Few days ago, there was a protest in the city of Ibadan where various properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed, as if that was not enough, the peace enveloping Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital was on Tuesday shattered as angry youths took to the street destroying public infrastructures in protest of the scarcity of the new redesigned Naira notes and fuel, at least one person was reportedly shot, though we have not confirmed if it resulted to fatality or not. If this problem is not nipped in the bud, it may escalate to other states and become a nationwide crisis.
Mr. President, if the redesigned notes are in short supply, what happened to the N100, N50, N20, N10, N5 notes and even our coins that were not redesigned? You will recall that there was a time that the twenty naira note was the highest currency denomination in the country and we were living fine.
We believe if for logistics reasons the newly redesigned notes are not available, making N100 the highest denomination in the country for now, will be understandable.
In addition, we feel the pains and agony being encountered by cash-strapped members of the public who have had to endure both the physical, emotional and psychological trauma caused by no fault of their own having been forced to return their old notes to the bank and searching all over again for either the old or the new notes.
We commend the judgment of the Supreme Court which ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to end the use of old naira notes on 10 February. We are looking forward to hearing from the federal government the modalities for the implementation of the landmark judgment.
Your Excellency, the pains and agony members of the public are enduring as a result of the cash scarcity on a daily basis are enormous and can only be mitigated by the commitment of the federal government to make these notes available in various parts of the country.
Therefore, we are calling on your office to immediately swing into action by directing and mobilizing the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) to provide palliative measures for temporary relief of the current scarcity so as to prevent the impending pandemonium which will negatively affect the already battered economy of the country.
PRESS BRIEFING ON THE STATE OF THE NATION ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) AS PART OF THE PROJECT ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUES DURING THE UPCOMING 2023 ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA HELD ON TUESDAY 31st January 2023.
Gentlemen of the Press, you’re welcome to today’s Press briefing.
CACOL is an aggregate of human rights, community based, and civil society organizations and individuals with an anti-corruption and openness in governance agenda across Nigeria. It is a non-political, non-religious, non-sectarian and non-profit organization. The Centre is a national organization with membership across the 36 states of the Federation.
We are all aware that the nation is confronted with some challenges that we believe are not too difficult to solve with collective will. It is rather unfortunate that corruption is at the root of most of these challenges.
Insecurity is a major concern for everybody in Nigeria and this has created a lot of fear and uncertainty in the society. Every region in the country is battling with various challenges of insecurity which include the activities of Boko Haram in which millions of lives have been lost and the increasing cases of kidnapping. In the last eighteen years, the Federal Government earmarked not less than N10 trillion for the defense of the territorial integrity and internal security of the nation. Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration spent over one billion dollar on military equipment to recover territories in the North-East captured by Boko Haram. The various state governments equally allocated hundreds of billions of Naira to maintain law and order.
In fact, individual citizens and communities pay levies and salaries to young men and women engaged to secure them and their properties. In spite of the huge funds spent on security, it is common knowledge that the country is currently grappling with the menace of kidnapping, hostage taking, terrorism and armed robbery. We still remember how some terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna passenger train on March 28, 2022, in which about 14 persons were killed and 63 officially declared abducted. Although all the abducted victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack were later released, over six billion naira was allegedly paid to the terrorists to set most of their captives free.
On Saturday, 7th of January, this year, no fewer than 31 passengers and staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) were abducted by gunmen at the Igueben train sub-station in Edo State, while several passengers were injured.
The deﬁciencies in regular security forces and shortage of personnel have led to upsurge of private security outﬁts. These security entities are hired by banks, oil companies, educational institutions and hospitality businesses to fortify corporate security arrangements. There is no gainsaying that Nigeria has formidable security challenge as insecurity is reported daily in electronic, print and social media.
We believe that high level of insecurity leads to low life expectancy rate, low level of development in education and low investment in economy to promote sound economic growth and development as a result of absence of local and foreign investments that cannot operate in an unsecured environment.
With the lingering security challenges and the inability of the security apparatus of the government to guarantee safety and security of lives and properties in the country, the question that borders everyone in Nigeria today is “can there be security?” Is security of lives and properties achievable now? Is there a safe haven anywhere in the country? Despite huge budgetary allocations to security and subsequent establishment of various units under the various security agencies to control the activities of criminals, armed banditry, kidnapping, child rape, ritual killings and food insecurity are still the order of the day.
At the start of 2022, Nigerians hoped that, with less than two years to the end of
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the government would ramp up its efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment among the populace. In his 2022 New Year message to Nigerians, Buhari was effusive about his intention to secure the country and address its socio-economic challenges.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently released the highly anticipated multidimensional poverty report. The report put Nigeria’s poverty index at 0.257, with about 133 million people being multi-dimensionally poor. Sokoto, Bayelsa, and Jigawa States led the list of states in Nigeria with the highest multidimensional poverty index, having an aggregate of 14.18 million impoverished people.
Factors such as healthcare, food insecurity, education, nutrition, and access to cooking fuel contributed the most to the national poverty index. According to the NBS, over half of the Nigerian populace is multi-dimensionally poor and deprived of cooking fuel.
The highlights: 65% of the poor people in Nigeria, which translates to 86 million, live in the Northern part of the country, while 35% (47 million) live in the southern part.
Nigeria has been grappling with high cost of living, which has further widened the gap between the rich and the poor, seeing many more Nigerians fall below the poverty line. This calls for serious concern even as we are now in an election year and most politicians are either vigorously campaigning to win election or supporting their preferred candidates to win while ignoring these pressing issues.
Although the Nigerian economy rebounded after the difficult years of COVID-19, growing 3.5% in the first three quarters of 2022, the recovery has wrought more hardship on Nigerians. This is because the main drivers of growth in Nigeria – oil production and services – don’t usually benefit most Nigerians in terms of jobs and business opportunities. The country’s inflation rate increased to 21% in 2022, compared with an average of 10.6% for emerging and developing economies and 8.8% for the world. This level of economic hardship could present further risks to Nigeria’s security.
Young people have had it worst. Youth unemployment is 43%. It was below 10% prior to Buhari’s administration in 2015. University students were forced to stay at home for nine months during the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities. Till now, the rift between the government and ASSU has not been laid to rest.
The year 2022 has also been unkind to poor and unemployed Nigerians. Rising inflation has raised the cost of living and pushed many into poverty. Because over half of Nigeria’s inflation is driven by rising food prices, many poor individuals and families face hunger. The risk of hunger has been heightened by the recent flooding in many parts of Nigeria, which saw over a million people lose their homes and means of livelihood.
With no insurance, social protection and other safety nets, most of these Nigerians are left to fend for themselves.
While 2022 will be remembered as a very difficult year for youths, workers and the poor, the cabal that controls the Nigerian oil industry were having a field day. Buhari promised to end the corruption-infested oil subsidy, but this cabal secured a postponement. Nigeria spent an estimated US$9.6 billion on the fuel subsidy in 2022. This is expected to exceed $16 billion in 2023.
A greater percentage of the subsidy is likely to fraudulently end up in the bank accounts of the oil cabal. The same cabal has resorted to illegal bunkering and outright theft of oil from the pipelines. Nigeria lost $2 billion to oil theft between January and August 2022. This is about 5% of its 2021 petroleum export of $41.4 billion. Not to be outdone by the oil cabal, former Niger Delta militants now share in the oil largesse. The Buhari administration has awarded them over $100 million (48 billion naira) in contracts to “secure” the country’s oil infrastructure.
Never mind that the government has deployed thousands of government-paid security operatives whose job is to do exactly what the militants are being contracted for.
Political elites continue to live in opulence.
Despite the country’s fiscal challenges, members of the National Assembly have continued to receive their allowances and funds for constituency projects.
Following steep depreciation in the naira, currency speculators have had a field day. The naira plunged by 4% in the official market during the year and by almost 20% in the parallel market.
This has posed significant challenges for manufacturers, as import costs soar amid an acute scarcity of foreign exchange. It’s harder for manufacturers to buy raw materials and expand production. The result is a further decline in their ability to generate well-paid jobs.
Granted that corruption is a global menace. Still, it is quite prevalent in African countries, Nigeria included. For many years, Nigeria has earned a considerable sum of money from its natural resources, such as gas and oil, with a considerable portion going down the cesspool created by corruption. Basically, a considerable portion of the money the country earns finds its way into the pockets of a few, leaving millions impoverished.
As a result of corrupt leaders, Nigerian society has gradually become more and more corrupt. There are numerous institutions and departments where one cannot be served without parting with a bribe. This has made the menace one of the biggest problems facing Nigeria today.
The ranking by the global anti-corruption coalition, Transparency International (TI) of Nigeria as a country in which the corruption phenomenon is worsening should not present a surprise to keen watchers and followers of events in the country. The high economic and social instability pervading the polity surely are patent proofs that all is not well, as most of the situations bloom from corrupt practices. Indeed, the persistent refusal of governments at all levels to prune spending, avoid wasteful expenditure and focus only on projects of value to the greatest number have been attributed to corruption. The result is the very poor state of the country in all ramifications.
Rising insecurity, ethnic cleansing and unemployment are still blamed on corruption. Moreover, systemic failure in healthcare delivery and leadership failure has been found to be engendered by corrupt practices.
Corruption is hindering the country’s development, economic prosperity and it is responsible for deepening poverty in Nigeria. Corruption is gradually destroying the country and we would like to use this medium to call on the government and those aspiring for political offices to make known their anti-corruption stance as most of them have been stylishly silent on this important issue.
It should be noted that Nigeria has once again scored 24 out of 100 points while ranking 150 among 180 countries on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International on Tuesday. Although the country maintained its previous year’s (2021) score of 24 out of 100 points, there was a change in rank from 154 to 150, in the newly released index. The CPI is Transparency International’s tool for measuring the level of corruption in the systems of the 180 countries across the world, based on certain prevalent indices. Such indices are bribery, diversion of public funds, public officials using public office for private gain without consequences, ability of governments to contain corruption and enforce effective integrity mechanisms in the public sector, red tape and excessive bureaucratic burden which may increase opportunities for corruption, meritocratic versus nepotistic appointments in the civil service.
NEW NAIRA POLICY/CASH WITHDRAWAL LIMIT
While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line. This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the Government. It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions. It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman. Inadequate information sharing/dissemination by the CBN Governor also created unnecessary panic among the banking public.
We would like to make it clear that the CBN and indeed, the Federal Government should replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm. While Nigerians businesses are groaning under the burden created by not-well-thought-out Government policies, more misery should not be placed on them.
In formulating and executing monetary policy, the governor of CBN is required to make proposals to the president of the federal republic of Nigeria who has the final power to accept or amend such proposals. It is after the presidency has approved it that the CBN’s monetary policy proposals are made as an integral part of the federal government annual budget which combines to approve monetary policy.
The aim of monetary policy may be to check inflation or to stimulate production to aid recovery from a recession. The method adopted to achieve the designed aim is through changes in the monetary supply. A policy aiming at increasing the quantity of money is inflationary, and one that aims at a contradiction of the supply of money is deflationary.
Monetary policy is mainly the concern of the central bank, but the consequences of monetary policy can be so far-reaching for the whole country that no modern government can leave the choice of policy design to its central bank. The inconsistencies in policy implementation have led us to where we are today.
MARWA’S DRUG WAR
We would like to commend the vigour that Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) brought into the drug war in the country. Marwa’s leadership at NDLEA has changed the country’s drug war narrative both locally and internationally. While NDLEA was becoming a shadow of its former self, during the past years, it is now visible and glaring to all Nigerians that the NDLEA is not only barking but equally biting deep, drug barons and dealers that have for years remained invincible and untouchable. Marwa’s tireless efforts against drug abuse and trafficking of illicit substances are exceptionally commendable. We would like to use this medium to call on all the arms of government to support Marwa and the Agency to succeed in making Nigeria a drug free country.
Nigeria’s 2023 Elections
With dates for the 2023 general elections now set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – the presidential and National Assembly poll is set for February 25 and governorship and other subnational elections are scheduled for March 11 – the countdown is well underway for what will be the seventh consecutive elections since the return to democracy in 1999. This represents 23 years of unbroken democracy; the longest period in the country’s history.
The 2023 elections will be conducted under a new electoral framework, the Electoral Act 2022. The Act allows INEC to review results made under duress or financial inducement, extends the time for campaigns from 90 to 150 days, and provides for the use of technology to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results. Pundits believe these measures can help manage situations where inaccurate results are returned, expand the opportunity for politicians to visit the nooks and crannies of the country if they so desire and cure the chaotic, vulnerable manipulation and unnecessarily opaque process of aggregating results.
However, instead of reducing the role of money in politics, the Act has increased the campaign finance limit from N1 billion to N5 billion for presidential candidates. The ceiling for all other elected positions have also been increased fivefold, but without any efforts to improve the scrutiny of compliance limits, they are still likely to be exceeded.
The 2023 elections will be some of the most challenging to conduct in Nigeria as the country battles nodes of complex insecurity. The Boko Haram conflict that defined the 2015 election is yet to be quelled, and with bandits operating across the North-West, violent secessionist agitation spiraling in the South-East and farmer-herder clashes ongoing across the country, the 2023 election is set to take place amidst nationwide insecurity. The June 5 attack on a church in relatively stable Ondo State, in South-West Nigeria, which saw more than 50 people killed, was a stark reminder of the insecurity challenges that will make the safety of election materials and personnel a major challenge for INEC.
INEC has also expressed concerns about deliberate attacks on its facilities in some states where materials meant for the elections were burnt. Within the space of three weeks, three attacks were carried out on INEC facilities in Ogun, Osun and Ebonyi states. Attacks on INEC’s facilities have become a recurring decimal in the Southeast geopolitical zone. Two days ago, it was reported that some yet-to-be-identified assailants attacked the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission at Ojoto, in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The Commission lamented that incessant attacks on its facilities might cause hitches in operations, saying, though there are no casualties, quite a number of the materials acquired and delivered for the election have been lost. We hope these incessant attacks on INEC’s facilities would stop so as not to affect the upcoming elections.
We are particularly happy that there is a high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 general elections as 79 percent of registered voters in Nigeria have successfully picked up their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as of Dec. 22, according to a new survey by SBM Intelligence published by Business Day of January 5, 2023.
SBM Intelligence said 6,588 voters were surveyed in 16 states across the country midway into the PVC collection timetable issued by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ascertain how Nigerians who desired to vote and who have completed the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process were faring with regards to the collection. The study shows that there is a very high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 elections and amongst those who desire to vote, 94 percent of them went ahead to complete the CVR and 90 percent have tried to get their PVCs, even if they have had to visit up to six times to do so.
Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal Judgment
On the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal which declared Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of the July 16 governorship election, we commend members of the Tribunal for being professional, upright and just despite the enormous pressure they were under. The ruling of the Tribunal would help deepen Nigeria’s electoral system and democracy.
We however, urged those who are not satisfied with the judgment not to resort to violence but remain calm and allow law run its full course.
As an Anti-Corruption group, we are calling on INEC to take lessons from the petition of the APC and the outcome of the Tribunal, especially as it prepares for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections. It is important for the electoral body to note the irregularities pointed out in the judgment of the Tribunal and ensure that such anomalies do not recur in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the Governorship and State Assemblies elections on March 11, 2023.
We cannot conclude this briefing without noting the recent admission by the Osun Resident Electoral Commission, Mutiu Agbokethat Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) helped to reveal overvoting during the Osun elections. Agboke explained that BVAS helped INEC to expose those who carried out over-voting on the election day during the Osun guber polls. According to him, people were able to do overvoting because they deliberately bypass the BVAS. The politicians in connivance with INEC staff deliberately bypassed the BVAS; it was this BVAS that exposed overvoting during Osun Election. We would like to call on INEC to ensure that all these gaps are covered before, during and after the general elections so that the votes of the people can really count.
Based on our experiences, we want to recommend as follows:
There is need for increase sensitization on Anti-Corruption and Accountability in Elections at the grassroots level.
The Media need to increase their reportage and investigations on Corruption and Accountability issues before, during and after Elections period to enhance political parties and their candidate to incorporate Anti-Corruption and Accountability issues in their Manifestos and Agenda.
There is an urgent need for anti-corruption campaigns to percolate down to the grassroots and even to the level of primary and tertiary institutions to stem the tide of rising cyber-crimes (A.K.A Yahoo Yahoo) among our youths.
Political Parties must be engaged to mainstream Anti-Corruption and Accountability into their manifestos and Activities.
There is an urgent need to amplify the voices of the people at the grassroots because most of them do not even have access to their elected representatives once they are sworn in.
Civil society groups should embark on massive civic awareness of the electorates on the dangers of corruption in electoral process and its impacts on their future
There is a need for more proactive measures by anti-corruption agencies in terms of timely investigation and prosecution of offenders. In the case of Lagos State, the State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption agency had been silent for some months now. We have not heard anything about the Commission since the appointment of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun (rtd.) as Chairman of the anti-graft commission. Considering the level of corruption we have in our society today, one would have expected the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption agency to hit the ground running so as to reduce sharp practices in the state civil service. It would be gratifying if the Commission can come out to say there are no reported corruption related cases among the agencies and parastatals like LASEMA, LASSAA, LASTMA, etc
Need to increase citizen’s timely Voter Education and sensitization by both the electoral body and relevant stakeholders.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has reacted to the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal which declared Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of the July 16 governorship election.
The Tribunal, headed by Justice Tertsea Kume, last Friday, ruled that the election was characterized by over-voting and annulled the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which gave victory in the election to Mr Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran, it stated, “We commend members of the Tribunal for being professional, upright and just despite the enormous pressure they were under. The said ruling of the Tribunal would help deepen Nigeria’s electoral system and democracy.”
CACOL, however, urged those who are not satisfied with the judgment not to resort to violence but to remain calm and allow the law to run its full course.
The CACOL head posited that “As an Anti-Corruption group, we are calling on INEC to take lessons from the petition of the APC and the outcome of the Tribunal, especially as it prepares for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections. It is important for the electoral body to note the irregularities pointed out in the judgment of the Tribunal and ensure that such anomalies do not recur in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the Governorship and State Assemblies elections on March 11, 2023.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) over his recent call on anti-corruption agencies to arrest, interrogate and prosecute the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Centre, he stated, “It would be recalled that Keyamo, in a five-page petition dated Monday, January 16, 2023 to the Chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) accused the PDP candidate of four major infractions.
Keyamo who was acting on the revelations of a whistleblower Mr. Michael Achimugu, who has provided the nation with evidence of letters of appointment by Atiku Abubakar, e-mails, documents, audio clips, sworn affidavit and his direct oral evidence as to how Atiku, during his tenure as Vice-President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, colluded with his then boss, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, to fleece the country and steal public funds using what he termed as “Special Purpose Vehicles” (SPVs)
“From all indications, we have noticed that corruption in the country is like a nexus whereby an individual connives with several others to loot the treasury. The recent revelation linking the ex-president and his then vice, with the former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye is a pointer to this fact “
We at CACOL, as a non-partisan, civil society organization believe that the recent revelations and allegations against the person of the PDP Presidential Candidate should not be swept under the carpet and should not be viewed from a political perspective. That is why we are aligning ourselves with the moves by the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) to get to the root of this case.
The Head of CACOL added, “Nobody should stand in the way of Keyamo to get to the root of the matter. The revelation in the audio is damning and nobody has successfully refuted the allegations. The fact that the whistleblower came up with an affidavit is proof that he is sure of what he is saying and he is ready to stand by it. If anybody has anything against what he has said, the onus is on the person to come out and sue the whistleblower for perjury.”
“Inasmuch as we want to call on the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria to heed the call of the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) to carry out meticulous investigation and subsequent prosecution of all those fingered in this high-brow corruption issue, we want to make it clear that there should be maximum protection for the whistleblower, Festus Keyamo (SAN) and any other person that has to do with the issue at hand.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the ruling of the Federal Capital Territory High Court that ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties recovered from the former Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “A statement recently released by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said Justice M.A Hassan gave the order on Tuesday while ruling on a motion exparte marked M/1149/2022 and filed by the commission.
The commission had asked the court for an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of the properties in the schedule to the application, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive case in charge No. FCT, HC/CR/299/2022, Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Ahmed Idris and Others”.
The properties linked to Idris which were listed in the schedule for forfeiture include Kano City Mall/Al Ikhlas Shopping Mall at Mandwawarti, Kano; a one-storey Shopping Complex at Ladanai, Kano; Corner Shops at Ladanai, Kano; a duplex at Karsana, Abuja; Royal Duplex at Deneji Quarters, Kano and a Duplex at Plot 271, New Jersey Street, Efab Blue Fountain Estate, Abuja.
Nine properties linked to the second respondent, Mohammed Usman, which are located in Abuja, Niger, and Nasarawa States, were also ordered forfeited in the interim. They include plots of land with shops in Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State, 37 hectares of farmland with livestock located along Minna-Bida Road in Niger State, Bungalow flats at Gwarimpa, Abuja, Bungalow Buildings at Masaka, Nasarawa State, plots of land at Dutse Alhaji Abuja and 13 plots of land at Integrated City, Minna, Niger State.
We at CACOL are elated at this ruling, we have always believed in the principle of dignity of labour. It is so shameful and pathetic that some of those our youths are looking up to as professionals in their chosen field of endeavours are engaging in sharp practices. How else can one describe the situation where someone who is supposed to be a man of impeccable character, scrupulous and a role model to million others in his profession can easily soil his reputation by dipping his hand in the national cookie jar. His likes have continually dragged the name of the country in the mud and are so bold to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth in public. This is why culprits of corruption need to be deprived of their evil accumulations, wherever and whenever they are found out, and made to face the consequence of their acts as a just supper”.
The CACOL Boss added, “We therefore hail the decision of the judge, Justice M.A Hassan to order the interim forfeiture of the said assets and funds of the accused after taking into consideration the evidences presented before the court. We hope the ruling of the court will serve as an eye opener to those who are still perpetrating this heinous crime against humanity in our various ministries and parastatals and make them have a rethink so that together we can all build and live in a corruption free society”.
CACOL CELEBRATES 2022 INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY
Around nineteen (19) years ago and precisely on October 31, 2003, the entire world through the international umbrella, the United Nations Convention number 58/4, declared every 9th of December each year as the World Anti-Corruption Day, in line with emerging concerns about what constitutes Corruption and its effects on societies, especially on the developing nations.
The 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) with the theme “Uniting the World Against Corruption” seeks to highlight the crucial link between anti-corruption and peace, security, and development. At its core is the notion that tackling this crime is the right and responsibility of everyone, and that only through cooperation and the involvement of each and every person and institution can we overcome the negative impact of this crime. States, government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth alike all have a role to play in this.
Corruption is a major impediment to peace, security and development. From education to the environment, from business to sports, from gender equality to access to justice, and more – corruption undermines all areas of society’s development.
Corruption, conflict and instability are meanwhile profoundly intertwined. Corruption not only follows conflict but is also frequently one of its root causes. It fuels conflict and inhibits peace processes by undermining the rule of law, worsening poverty, facilitating the illicit use of resources, and providing financing for armed conflict.
The leadership of the country has seen corruption as a monster that has to be destroyed lest it destroy the country itself. Corruption in Nigeria appears to be ubiquitous and takes many forms: from massive contract fraud to petty bribery; from straight-up embezzlement to complicated money laundering schemes; from pocketing the salaries of nonexistent workers to steering plum jobs to relatives and friends. It has indeed become a constant phenomenon. In 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since its independence. In 2021, the country ranked 154th in the 180 countries listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Index. The fight against corruption has remained a constant priority for the Government of H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari since its inception in 2015. Corruption has been identified as one of the main spoilers of Nigeria’s ambition to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, of its aspiration to lift more than 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. The efforts made to prevent and counter corruption in its various manifestations have earned Mr. President the role of the African Union’s Anti-Corruption Champion.
Recently, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced that the Nigerian government had realised at least N120 billion as proceeds from criminal financial operations since the Bill on Proceeds of Crime Recovery Management was signed into law earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari. His administration, through the anti-graft agencies, has arrested, detained and even prosecuted some public office holders, the latest being the country’s accountant-general for the staggeringly monumental fraud he’s been perpetrating for years but we want to see a situation where Mr. President is holding people to account. It is not just a few; it has to be holistic. We expect more firm actions from the president and that actually is missing in some instances. The use of state pardon to set convicted corruption criminals free should be discontinued because a convicted
Inasmuch as we want to appreciate the efforts of this administration in tackling corruption, we believe that more stringent penalties must be put in place and the judiciary must also cooperate to nip this shameful act in the bud in the country. We need to take a cue from other countries of the world that have taken anti-corruption fight to the level whereby all their citizens know that there are grave consequences for any act of corruption.
For example, in January 2021, China executed a former top banker accused of taking $260 million worth of bribes and other forms of corruption. Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of Huarong — one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms — was put to death by a court in the northern city of Tianjin. The Chinese Supreme People’s Court, which reviewed and approved the execution order, was quoted as saying “the amount of bribes received by Lai Xiaomin was extremely large, the crime’s circumstances were particularly serious and the social impact was particularly severe”.
Although, we don’t support death penalty, but we are of the opinion that corruption cannot be effectively defeated in the country when convicted criminals get minimum jail sentences, plea bargaining and a “go and sin no more” verdict thereby having ample opportunity to enjoy their loots. The various anti-corruption agencies must tidy up their investigations, ensure diligent prosecution of corruption cases and the judiciary must ensure that corruption cases are speedily and timely dispensed with.
Government officials, appointed board members, heads of MDAs, and even Ministers most of whom are politicians or political appointees have constituted themselves into impediments for the smooth operation of these anti-corruption agencies. The fact that these agencies rely on these government officials and appointees for their expenditures to be approved and released, they are unable to do anything contrary to what these set of government officials dictate to them. The government officials direct the affairs of these anti-corruption and regulatory agencies and exercise absolute control over their activities. This has contributed to be a major clog in the wheel of progress to the agencies particularly in the area of carrying out their due diligence in investigation and prosecution. Until these impediments are removed, we should not expect the anti-corruption agencies to perform better than they are presently doing.
Against this backdrop, we suggest that the major anti-corruption and other regulatory agencies (i.e EFCC, ICPC, NAFDAC, NDLEA, SON etc.) should be given full autonomy or independence by funding them from first line charge, so that they would be removed from the control of various supervising Ministers who are politicians and who would want to protect their fellow politicians at all cost.
Government should remove incentives that make corruption intractable problems like pardoning corruption convicts which are capable of demoralizing investigators, witnesses, prosecutors and courageous judges who make convictions possible. Moreover, pardoned corruption convicts can also take revenge once they secure their freedom by going after investigators, witnesses, prosecutors and judges that convicted them.
The recently announced CBN’s policy which limits daily cash withdrawals to N20, 000 and weekly withdrawals of N100,000 for individuals is one that can open the corruption window in the long run. The policy did not take into consideration the people in the rural areas where everything is done in cash and bank’s presence in these areas is either relatively low or non-existent. The policy doesn’t seem to consider the unbanked and internet network deficient communities that have to travel several kilometers to resolve banking disputes and errors as well as those who don’t have usable telephone devices and the huge number of those who currently engage in POS business who may lose their source of livelihood if the policy is implemented as planned.
We at CACOL, are intensifying our Public Enlightenment campaigns through grassroots engagement and interventions. We are also vigorously intensifying our engagement of the Media and collaborating with relevant Stakeholders towards ensuring that corruption is finally extirpated or minimized within the body polity, in line with United Nations resolution against corruption.
RESOLUTIONS REACHED AT THE CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH SECURITY AGENCIES IN LAGOS STATE ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUES DURING THE UPCOMING 2023 ELECTIONS IN LAGOS STATE: THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY AGENCIES ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) IN COLLABORATION WITH CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) HELD AT RIGHTS HOUSE, 43, ADENIYI JONES AVENUE, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS STATE ON WEDNESDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER, 2022.
The consultative meeting with representatives of security agencies was organized to dialogue with the representatives of security agencies in Lagos State on prioritizing Anti-Corruption and Accountability issues during the upcoming 2023 General Elections in Lagos State.
Those invited were representatives of various security agencies among who are the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Army, the Nigeria Air Force, the Nigeria Navy, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Nigeria Customs, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Department of State Security Services, Federal Road Safety Corps, Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps and some Media Organizations.
The meeting started with the introduction of participants and opening remarks by Tola Oresanwo, CACOL’s Director of Programmes. There was also a paper presentation, by Debo Adeniran, The Chairman of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL). He highlighted the needs for the security agencies to collaborate and avoid inter agencies rivalry as the nation prepares for the forthcoming general election in 2023.
It was observed during the meeting that:
1) Safety and security of persons and properties is important for the conduct of free and fair elections.
2) Electoral violence has become a recurrent decimal anytime there is general election since 1999 till date.
3) Security is without doubt a key ingredient for a violence free election and for the process to be perceived as effective.
4) Since 1999, security personnel of the various agencies have been mobilized to provide security during elections.
5) Though the police, being the primary civil force are largely responsible for the election duties. The increasing involvement of various security agencies in the election duty is closely attributed to the high incidence and threat of violence at stages of the electoral process.
6) The deployment of various security personnel during elections has in many cases, been associated with irregularities by incumbent authorities such as intimidation, electoral fraud, collusion with politicians to undermine free and fair elections and incompetence in handling problems at polling stations.
After discussions and deliberations with the representatives of the agencies, the participants made the following recommendations:
Effective security during elections should not be equated with mere physical presence of security agents. It includes the presence of security agencies, and also their professional roles in terms of being impartial, protecting all political actors and voters and protection of electoral materials, venues, counting centres and prevention of violence during all the phases of the elections.
Prior to deployment of security agents – before, during and after election – there must be proper briefings on roles and responsibilities.
Security deployment must also be professionally executed to curb compromise by erring security officials.
Security agents must be alive to their responsibilities in ensuring the safety and security of INEC officials, INEC infrastructures, voters and election observers, during and after elections.
Law enforcement officials on election duty should ensure that electoral offences published by INEC are either prevented or controlled or do not take place on election days. These offences range from canvassing for votes; persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate or not to vote at all at the election; shouting slogans concerning the election; being in possession of any acid, offensive weapon or missile or wearing any dress or having facial or other decorations which in many events is calculated to intimidate voters; loitering without lawful excuse after voting or after being refused to vote; to the offence of voting or attempting to vote, when one’s name is not in the register of voters; among others.
The curricula for the training of the police at all levels should include modules on democracy, elections, political parties and constitutional/statutory provisions on elections.
The independence of the police force should be guaranteed by strengthening its autonomy from the control of the government of the day, the police force should be strengthened in areas of communication, weaponry and transportation for effective mobilization, deployment and enhanced performance.
Inter/intra agencies rivalry while performing election duties should not be encouraged rather all security agencies should collaborate and see themselves as partners in progress working to achieve a common goal.
Security agencies should investigate pre and post-election violence, and bring perpetrators to book. This will go a long way to improve participation in the elections and serve as deterrent to others.
The media should mount pressure on security agencies to be more responsible, accountable and transparent in security provisioning especially during electioneering period.
Centre For Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL)
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