The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Nigerian Senate in its bid to unravel the mystery surrounding the alleged N14.7bn proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
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, he stated, “We received the news that the Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun investigation of N14.7bn proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise”.
It will be recalled that the committee acting on an audit query in the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December, 2019.’
The Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, had presented the report to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Ojo Amos, on September 15, 2021, while the Senate and House Committees on Public Accounts began investigation of the queries.
The defunct government-owned National Electric Power Authority was privatized and renamed PHCN, which was later unbundled to become the present generation and distribution companies.
The query stated that the funds were still in the banks as of December 31, 2016, whereas the privatization of the PHCN had been concluded since 2013.
The query read in part, “Audit verification and reconciliation revealed that the sum of N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds from the privatization exercise of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria was reported in the bureau’s trial balance to be in commercial bank accounts as at 31st December 2016. Whereas, the privatization of the PHCN was concluded in 2013, the proceeds are yet to be remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria Privatization Proceeds Accounts”.
The anti-corruption Czar opined that “It is very funny that the money generated as far back as 2013 when the Privatization of PHCN was concluded is still hidden in some accounts in commercial banks despite government directive that all money generated by Ministries and MDAs should be deposited in the Treasury Single Account. This is an affront to the laid down rules as this could lead to revenue leakages and open the door for grand corruption with the said amount of money”.
The CACOL Boss further enthused, “We want to commend the Senate Public Accounts Committee for questioning the award of these contracts. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria generally vests the legislature with the power to make laws, although this responsibility is not limited to making laws as a lot of additional responsibility including that of oversight has also been placed upon the legislature. Oversight functions serve a variety of purposes among which are to keep the executive establishment responsible and accountable, to promote rationality and efficiency in the formulation and administration of public policy, among others. We want to believe that if the current trend by the senate committee is intensified and sustained with the cooperation of the various anti-corruption agencies in the country, stemming the tide of corruption in the various agencies and parastatals of government will not be a herculean task”.
THE IMPERATIVENESS OF RECONSIDERING THE REJECTED ELECTORAL BILL AND THE NEED FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION TO REDUCE CORRUPTION IN THE AGENDA OF POLITICAL PARTIES: A CASE FOR DIRECT PRIMARY AND ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS IN THE NEW ELECTORAL LAW.
Gentlemen of the Press, you’re welcome to today’s Press briefing.
It is no longer news that the President has refused accents to the amended electoral bill that was passed by the national assembly since November 9, 2021. It is unfathomable that the presidents knowing that he is not likely to assent to the bill delayed it for that length of time without giving a hint that he was not likely to assent to the bill. He didn’t need to wait for that length of time before letting the public know that the bill will not be assented to by him. If he had given a hint, a lot of consultations and further clarifications would have been made to him by the sponsors of the bill and concerned public during the grace period that he had to assent to the passed bill unfortunately he didn’t do that and that is not a good democratic practice.
We are all aware of what led to the need to amend the existing electoral law. Several shortcomings have been identified, the most prominent ones are the issues of modes of how party primaries should be held and transmission of electoral results these two items have generated a lot of debate. Not many people gave consideration to the security implication that the president cited as one of the reasons he didn’t assent to the bill. Those who raised the question of funding were convinced that the proponents of direct primary system that each party should have perfected his own strategy to carry out that exercise while the INEC have assured Nigerian public of its readiness to ensure that electronic transmission of electoral results works effectively. We believe that the president ought not to take the words off those who are directly concerned about the issues arising on those plans. He would have left the parties to determine how they hold their own direct primary elections because every member is expected to be as important as the other. We don’t believe that hand-picked delegates should impose their will on the generality of membership of a political party. That the principle of equality of membership should hold sway at the level of political parties.
It is unnecessary for the president to take it upon himself to canvass on behalf of smaller parties knowing fully well that by virtue of the law that guides formation and registration of political parties in Nigeria, no political party is expected to be small as far as the existing law is concerned.
As far as human beings and political party structures exist in all parts of Nigeria and the elections have been holding at different times during the same period when the security challenges were identified, it should not be the sole concerned of the President to act on behalf of the legislators who are direct representatives of people of those regions. If the legislators of people of those regions deem it fit that direct primary will hold then it is not for the president to take over the function of the House of Representative members that represents the federal constituencies in those areas and the Senator who is representing the senatorial district of those areas. They ought to have brought it up if it was a serious concern during the debate on the bill and trashed it out before they agreed to pass the bill. So it is out of place for the president to begin to canvass on that premise. We believe the President could have been differently convinced by opponents of the bill to withhold his assent and it is our hope that the national assembly will take the alternative option of getting the bill passed whether the President like it or not.
Notwithstanding the above, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership had been nursing its own misgivings about the bill when it was being processed, we knew that our views were not being properly represented in the bill, but we believe that half loaf is better than none at all, that as long as the bill was passed inclusive of the issue of direct primary and electronic transmission of electoral results we could raise other arguments for the further amendment of the bill in its future. Ordinarily, CACOL would have canvased that the bill should not be passed as it was, this is because of some of the ingredients of true democracy that we observed are lacking in the Act as it were:
1.) Is lack of political ideological direction by virtually all the political parties that have been registered.
2.) is the bogus requirements by the INEC that all registrable political parties should have offices in all parts of the country
3.) Lack of anti-corruption agenda in virtually all aspects of the manifestos that have been presented by all the registered political parties.
4.) Inadequate and nebulous social inclusion agenda in virtually all the political parties.
5.) This is apart from the generally accepted weakness of sanctions for those who violate electoral law. We also know that the electoral law provided upper ceiling for how much individual contestants and their political parties can spend on their campaigns but there is no serious monitoring mechanism, sanctions and machinery for imposing the sanctions contained in the existing electoral law.
Some of these inadequacies will be further addressed in this briefing.
Ideological leanings: Part of the gaps is that the new law as passed by the national assembly does not make ideological leanings compulsory for all political parties. That means setting up and registration of political parties are amorphous without any concrete bases upon which the citizenry would pitch their interest vis-a-vis their hope for a better country.
There ought to be ideological leanings for all political parties so that whoever is voting knows the kind of government that will be formed at the end of the election. So we are thinking about if it is going to be left leaning, it should be fully left leaning, if it is going to be socialist it should be socialist, if it’s going to be welfarist it should be clearly spelt out how things will be done. If it’s going to be fully capitalist, it should be fully capitalist. People should not be left groping in the dark.
We know the principle of socialism where everybody contributes to the pool according to his ability and everybody draws from the pool according to his needs. If it is going to be welfarist it should be clearly spelt out that the welfare of the citizenry would be paramount in the minds of whichever government is formed after the election and that nobody will be left without basic needs including jobs, education, health care, accommodation, etc and the capacity to engage in trade or any form of business and establishment of business outlet should not be in doubt. If it’s going to be capitalist, let us know the extent of capitalism that the party wants to practice. Are they going to liberalize the supply of oil? Are they going to commercialize energy, power, water and other amenities like this? If at all they will commercialize, they should let us know to whom? Is it to the private sector or to individuals? Are they going to leave the oil rigs in the hands of well-connected individuals and companies? What will be the policies on local content of everything that is being done in the economy? Are we going to keep importing all our needs without manufacturing anything locally? Are we going to be a raw material producing country forever?
The amended bill does not make any provision for anti-corruption safeguards and social inclusion. What we expected is that the new amended law would include safeguards that will make it compulsory for political parties to ensure that anti-corruption agenda will be prioritized. An anti-corruption policy has to be clearly stated on how the party feel that anti-corruption war should be fought and if they form government how they are going to wage the war against corruption, for example, the fight against corruption should not be a fire brigade approach, political parties should have pre-stated it that if we win election, anybody found guilty of corruption crime that is up to a particular amount of money, this is the kind of recommendation that will be made to the judiciary. If it’s going to be life imprisonment or death penalty or total suspension from participating in politics or holding political office, it should be clearly stated, so that anybody that is voting for that political party knows how good they are going to deal with the issues of corruption once they are voted into power.
Then there should be a policy on religion, parties should be allowed to state clearly if they are religious party or ethnic party so there should be policies on religion, ethnicity and the likes. But if a party is neutral then religious consideration should not be brought into it and whenever they want to state their manifesto they should make it clear that religious and ethnic leanings will not be given any pride of place. And the case that we don’t want Christian/Christian, Muslim/Muslim ticket will not arise in any political party. We believe that merit should be the target, there are several States where you have Muslim/Muslim ticket even when they have other religions and they are still surviving so why won’t they allow that to happen at the national level.
We believe that political parties that have similar ideological and political leanings should be made to pull together and all political parties don’t have to have what they call national outlook. If a political party decides that it has only the capacity to operate in just one local government, they should allow him register to run in the local government. If it is a state, he should be allowed to run in the state, if it is in just a region or a section of the country it should be allowed to run in that region or section of the country without any harassment and they should make it clear in their manifestos and programs. During campaigns, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to monitor their campaign and campaign materials so that it will not go out of what is contain in their manifestos. Whatever they say should be in accordance with what has been documented in their manifestos that will be submitted to INEC. And necessarily there should be a law that will make it compulsory that they should stay within the limits of the ideologies they have avouched so that people will not be disappointed at the end of the day.
We also expected that every political party should state clearly its policies on power, technology, trade and commerce, economy, military, police, foreign policy, education, food, work, and all other aspects of our national life. Their monetary/financial policies should state clearly if individuals will be allowed to accumulate as much material wealth that are possible without control or if there will be certain level of control or upper ceiling for how much material wealth individuals can accumulate for himself. The same should apply to corporate entities. Then how they are going to implement the existing laws on money laundering, currency trafficking, human trafficking, drug trafficking, etc. all these should be clearly stated.
The cost of politicking should also be clearly stated. The law should develop a scheme by which political spending will be monitored and anybody that violates the laws and regulations should be sanctioned accordingly. If it has been stated that the president should not spend more than 20 billion naira for his campaign a machinery should be set in motion to monitor his spending anytime he crosses the bar somebody will raise a red flag and that will count against the candidate or the party at the end of the day where the party may lose nomination or election.
The monetization of the polity should also be given prominent place by the new electoral law anybody that is found to be bribing voters and officials either before, during or after elections would be sanctioned in a particular way so that at the end of the day we will know that there is full level playing ground.
The law should also be realistic about whatever is specified as minimum spending for political parties and candidates during election giving consideration to the size and population of Nigeria and if need be campaign should be restricted to news media – print and electronics and maybe social media but if physical campaign should be launched it should also be specified that it may not be outside the state capital so that smaller parties should be able to have their way wherever they have the capacity.
Nigeria as a country should develop its own national ideological leaning that will put upper ceiling on how much an individual can accumulate. Once it is streamlined, then the propensity to commit electoral fraud or corruption will be reduced to the barest minimum and getting to office at all cost will also be reduced since every citizen will have upper ceiling of how much they can accumulate which would have been prestated.
Any political party that is coming into office should determine how it is going to do it and as soon as a new government is formed it will be based on the ideological learning of the political party.
We have observed that in recent time, the idea of political party’s candidate selection process enjoys unrivalled eminence in political discourses and analyses in Nigeria. However, party primaries and conventions are mere platforms of voice affirmation of elite’s consensus, which most times renders candidate selection process less credible. The process through which candidates emerge is often fraught with controversies, which often lead to violence and litigations. In fact, a greater percentage of those that emerge from party primaries are products of imposition, consensus and compromise. Emerging through consensus is not an aberration neither is it undemocratic but it becomes a problem when it is orchestrated by the party’s godfathers who see themselves as the owners of the party. We believe that experience is the best teacher and that godfathers should only play advisory roles and not lord it over when it comes to the modus operandi of the elected office holders.
Another issue that has attracted our attention is the one that has to do with social inclusion in our democratic processes. Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.
For example, on the issue of gender balancing in the democratic space in Nigeria, the trend in the political parties paints a gloomy picture. For example, only one position, that is, that of the Woman Leader out of the twelve positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) of a party is usually occupied by a woman, the rest are male-dominated. Even at that, in some Muslim-dominated Northern states, between 2007 and 2015, for example, the Woman Leader positions were given to men. Similarly, the youth is still viewed as a boy/girl child to be fed, clothed, housed and tended to by their parents. For most political gladiators, a 30 year old person is still a child and is not capable of being assigned any position of responsibility in government. The common verdict in this regard is, leadership is not for boys and girls.
Same could be said about the persons with disability. This underrepresented group is politically reduced to an insignificant actor whose only democratic value is the voting card. None of the foremost parties in Nigeria has any semblance of disability policy either in their constitution or in their manifestos. Unlike the youth and the women that are represented at the National Working Committee (NWC) of the parties through their leaders, the disabled persons do not have such official portfolios designated to them. Apart from not having their own in the NWC, Board of Trustees (BoT), National Executive Committee (NEC) of these parties, the disabled persons experience a total black out in the affairs of these parties at all levels. Nobody is willing to lend them any support, apart from assisting them to vote during elections. This segment of the society remains the most politically marginalised and democratically suffocated.
The question we may want to ask is why are women not in top positions in the party structure and in elective positions? The answers are not far-fetched. In Nigeria, party structures are typically male-dominated. Another significant constraint to women’s political participation is the lack of material resources available to women. Politics in Nigeria is about money and elections cannot be won without adequate funding. The Nigerian economic environment, like the political environment is also clearly dominated by men. It therefore, follows that the Nigerian woman is marginalized, politically and economically.
Just like the women, Nigerian youth are also under-represented within their respective parties. A close scrutiny of the parties’ constitutions will expose the huge gap that defines the dismal place all parties in Nigeria place on the position of youth in party operations. In the Nigerian context, following the African Union (AU) categorization, the youth represents a group of people within the ages of 18 and 35. However, most of our political parties as presently constituted have their youth leaders that are above 40 years.
Moreover, apart from the position of the party youth leader, no youth is in the other organs of the party. Nigerian youth are not adequately incorporated into the various committees and sub-committees of these platforms.
What we expected is that the new amended law would specify affirmative actions that would ensure social inclusion not just by mere words but there ought to be concrete figures that every political party that worth its onions will work with. For example, if affirmative action for female folk is 35% and that of disabled is 5% that of youth, actually the youth should cut across all facets, so we expect any aspect of it to contain at least 35% of youth. So if 35% are women, female should form 35% of that 35% the same thing for the disabled. If the disabled should form 5% then disabled female should form minimum of 35% of that initial 5%. These figures should be the minimum, it may be higher than what is proposed here. And the law ought to make it compulsory for political parties to adhere strictly and implement it in their respective parties.
Clearly, one of the main challenges political parties in Nigeria face is that of internal party democracy. The most noticeable trend that runs through all narratives is the culture of exclusion and underrepresentation of some segments of the society. Political parties in Nigeria, overtly or covertly, fail to accord the underrepresented groups such as women, youth and the disabled a place within the democratic space. Party constitutions relegate these groups to the background in the affairs of the parties. Party structures are equally not accommodating to these groups. In Nigeria, more women are likely to vote than men yet women are underrepresented in the leadership of their parties and elective positions in the country. Many factors are responsible for these challenges and they are worth summarising here.
As explained earlier, the cost of politics in Nigeria serves as a hindrance for the marginalised groups because politics is oiled through monetary values that are beyond the capacity of the underrepresented groups. In Nigeria, party financiers or godfathers typically exert their influence in deciding who eventually picks the party’s flag. State governors particularly wield enormous power within their respective parties. The governors, being the main financiers of the party, especially at state levels, believe that they have the ‘right’ to impose candidates on the party. In most instances, such undue influence leads to internal wrangling because a level playing field is lost in the process that produces the candidates. This explains why most election-related legal tussles are cases that mostly originate from pre-election activities of political parties. Political parties have become clearing houses for political patronage by godfathers who satisfy the material needs of their clients along the primordially segregated lines of ethnic and sectional agenda. In line with this, party primaries, conventions and congresses have been turned into platforms of producing godsons as candidates for elections. Another related issue is the delegate method. This method of candidate selection is open to fraught, manipulations and abuse by the godfathers who hijack the delegates by buying their votes and subsequently imposing their candidates and surrogates.
Another factor responsible for the underrepresentation of certain segments of the society in the political parties is the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society. In most African countries in general, and Nigeria in particular, patriarchy is centrally embedded in all structures and institutions of society. As a result of the patriarchal nature and character of the Nigerian society and democratic practices in Nigeria, party structures, organs and elective positions are male-dominated, giving rise to the gender insensitivity that has become a feature of the political parties.
Recently, the media reported that there were sharp disagreements among senators during the consideration of a bill seeking to promote women empowerment and gender equality.
The bill, which was eventually stepped down, is designed to create equal opportunities for both the male and female gender in the country.
It was obvious that religion, ethnic affiliation and section 42 of the Constitution as amended, led to the split that reared its head at the Hallowed Chamber.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ekiti South, is titled “A bill for an Act to make provisions for the empowerment of women and gender equality and to establish a legislative framework for the empowerment of women”
The document was presented for second reading, but after much heated debate, the sponsor was forced to withdraw it after some senators who kicked against it, cited “socio-cultural and Islamic concerns.”
According to the sponsor, the bill is designed to align all aspects and implementation of laws relating to women empowerment as well as address issues relating to appointments and representation of women in decision making, positions and structures.
Gender equality in political parties also has crucial implications for democratic legitimacy and resilience. On a basic level, a democracy without the participation of half a country’s population is not a democracy. Women and men are entitled to equal civil and political rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international commitments. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence indicates that women’s political participation can lead to tangible democratic gains, including greater policy responsiveness to diverse citizen needs, reduced risk of conflict recurrence, and higher levels of political stability. Parties that take women’s participation seriously can also benefit electorally by accessing new groups of voters and signaling their commitment to social change.
We believe that social inclusion can serve as a veritable tool in engendering anti-corruption stance within the political parties.
DIRECT PRIMARY ELECTORAL SYSTEM IN THE NEW ELECTORAL BILL.
On the new electoral bill that was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly which made direct primary mandatory for all political parties for the emergence of their candidates for general elections, we want to throw our weight behind the bill and we believe that its high time we fine-tuned the principles of democracy we operate in this country, so as to meet the best practices in other advanced democratic climes.
We have looked critically at all the shades of opinions about direct primaries and we noticed that the direct primary system will guarantee returning power to the people where this government of the people, by the people for the people would be seen operating fully for the benefit of the people. That was why the two chambers accepted for the benefits of direct primaries outweigh that of indirect primaries. Therefore we stood fairly and still standing for direct primaries.
We also believe that the amendment constituted a right in itself to voters’ fundamental human right of having their votes count. Therefore, we believe the president had the duty to protect their rights by signing the bill. President Buhari should show high sense of responsibility by signing the bill. Not only to sign the bill, he should do so in good time. This is to forestall unnecessary apprehension because delay in doing so may raise tension and create agitation among Nigerians.
The direct primaries model will curb impunity in the electoral process and would force politicians to go back to the grassroots. They will no more distance themselves from the electorate. It is now that relevance in politics will count as against vote-buying and imposition of candidates by the powers-that-be during primaries using the indirect method.
Based on the fore goings, we want to recommend as follows:
1. There is need for increase sensitization on Anti-Corruption and Accountability in Elections at the grassroots level.
2. The anti-graft body EFCC should be involved in electoral process for screening of candidates who want to contest for an electoral office to ensure his integrity and incorruptibility.
3. 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.
4. 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;
5. 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.
6. Political Parties must be engaged to mainstream Anti-Corruption and Accountability into their manifestos and Activities.
7. 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.
8. We would like to use this medium to call on all the political parties to redress this anomaly and try as much as possible to incorporate these marginalized sets of people into the scheme of things in their various political parties.
9. Finally, we urge Mr. President to assent to the new electoral reform bill which consists of the e-transmission of results and direct primary. We are afraid that the controversy and cacophony of voices over direct primary may wittingly or unwittingly scuttle the entire Electoral Bill, and thus throw away the baby with the bath water.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed The Federal High Court in Abuja ruling that sentenced a former chairman of now-defunct Pension Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, to 61 years’ imprisonment which will run concurrently for eight years.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Director for Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Okon Abang, found Maina guilty on all the 12-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), preferred against him and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Limited. Justice Abang held that the anti-graft agency successfully established the essential ingredients of the offences contained in the charge, beyond a reasonable doubt.
The court ordered Maina and his firm to restitute about N2.1billion that was traced to their bank accounts, to the Federal Government, after which it ordered that the company should be wound up. Besides, it ordered the forfeiture of Maina’s two choice properties at Life camp and Jabi districts of Abuja, to the government, as well as the auction of a bulletproof car and a BMW 5 series car that was found on the premises of the convict.
Justice Abang stressed that though the law made provision for a maximum sentence of 14 years, he said he was moved by Maina’s plea for mercy.
“We at CACOL, received the news of the Federal High Court in Abuja verdict on Maina with great delight. It is very interesting to note how he had tried to evade trial by jumping bail at different times and how he had suffered, impoverished and denied many pensioners the opportunity to eat the fruits of their labour while they were alive. Many of the pensioners that he ought to have paid have died due to his own greed and sadism”.
The anti-corruption Crusader said “Though, his plea for mercy landed on the soft spot of the Judge, who sentenced him to 8 years instead of the maximum 14 years provided by the law, inasmuch as we want to commend Justice Okon Abang for taking this bold step, we believe that Maina doesn’t deserve mercy because he is a merciless person and he had done so much to evade trial which is a pointer to the fact that he is a chronic criminal that should not be given a chance to relate with decent people in the society. We believed that he deserved the maximum sentence of 14 years but now that the judgment had been passed, we hope that EFCC will appeal the judgment and seek for maximum sentence for a weakest soul like Maina. It has also come to public knowledge that Maina has other assets in different parts of the world, he should be able to either account for those assets or be forfeited to the Federal Government pending his ability to defend them”.
The CACOL’S Chairman added “In recent times, we have seen public office holders after siphoning the commonwealth of the citizens of this country running into billions to advance their individual and group’s business interests without recourse to laid-down procedures and thereafter be running from pillar to post in order to evade arrest and the attendant judicial prosecution. This is why we call on all the Anti-graft agencies to continue to investigate and prosecute other public office holders who are still enjoying their freedom and spending their loots. Moreover, any asset the person has accumulated should be deemed to be proceeds of corruption and should be confiscated and the person should begin again. We have always opined that culprits of official corruption need to be deprived of their evil accumulations, wherever and whenever they are found out, and made to face the full wrath of the law”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for recovering 301 houses from two public officers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
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 would be recalled that the Chairman of ICPC Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, at the inauguration of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Investigation of the Operations of Real Estate Developers, said the agency recovered 301 houses from two public officers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja”.
The ICPC chairman said while 241 buildings were recovered from one of the suspects at different locations within the FCT, the remaining 60 were recovered on a large expanse of land at another location.
The chair of the Anti-Corruption Coalition said “we commend, laud and enthuse on the Chairman of ICPC Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, for recovering these properties from the public officers concerned. It is pathetic that it is now a norm for unscrupulous civil servants to amass huge wealth which they cannot account for and use the fund to acquire choice properties in different parts of the country and even abroad”.
“This revelation by the chairman of ICPC is an indication that corruption has indeed found its safe abode in the nest of our public officials and personal aggrandizement has been placed above service to the fatherland. It further shows that some public officials who were entrusted with funds meant to carry out specific assignments cannot be trusted as they have continually been dipping their hands in the cookie jar”.
The CACOL’s Chief added “In as much as we commend ICPC for this remarkable feat, we want to use this medium to demand that the names of the accused officials be made public and that necessary charges be brought against them in the court of law. This will serve as a deterrent to others. It is also important to devise preventive strategies that will make it difficult for civil servants to steal public funds. The government should not fold its arms and allow unscrupulous public officials to run the various parastatals of government in their care aground while illegally enriching their private purses”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has
condemned the recent assassination of Mr. Olajide Sowore. Olajide is a
younger brother of Omoyele Sowore, Chair of the African Action
Congress (AAC) and former presidential aspirant.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and
Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo
Adeniran, he noted, “We received the news of the senseless
assassination of Olajide Sowore with great shock and angst. Olajide
was shot on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo State, where he
was studying Pharmacy”.
“It is regrettable that incessant and flagrant killings, kidnapping
and abductions of hapless Nigerians have been the other of the day and
one of the greatest threat to the right to life in Nigeria. The
stunning inability of the authorities to end them and bring suspected
perpetrators to justice have been and continues to serve as an impetus
for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to continue their illicit
“We at CACOL commiserate with the entire family of Olajide Sowore. We
stand in empathy with them and pray they find the necessary fortitude
to bear this irreparable loss. We condemn in the strongest term the
senseless killings that dotted the various parts of the country
thereby reducing human life that is supposed to be sacred to a very
cheap commodity. Like every right thinking Nigerians, we are still
searching for answers and trying to understand why and how this
happened and what caused it to reach this point”.
The CACOL Head adds “We call on our security agencies to carry out an
independent investigation and prosecution of all who might have a hand
in this dastardly act. We also use this medium to once again voice out
our disappointment on the perennial state of insecurity in the
country. This year, Nigeria as a country has lost more lives to
kidnapping and banditry than to road accidents. The government at all
levels must rise to the occasion by protecting the lives and
properties of every citizen which is the primary responsibility of any
Mr. Adeniran concluded by saying “We have said it before and we will
say it again that if the government is finding it difficult to win
this self-fabricated war, then the help of external forces should be
sought. We cannot continue to read and hear about the gruesome murder
of innocent souls in different parts of the country, we cannot
continue to live in perpetual fear while at home or traveling on our
roads and we cannot as a country continue to slide back or retrogress
into the Hobbesian State of Nature where human life was “solitary,
poor, nasty, brutish and short.” It’s Olajide Sowore today, we don’t
know who it will be tomorrow. This nuttiness must stop and the right
time to stop it, is now”.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has
commended the ruling of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi,
Lagos, that ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties
traced to Abidemi Rufai, the suspended aide of Ogun State Governor,
Dapo Abiodun, who is facing wire fraud charges in the United States of
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and
Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo
Adeniran, he noted, “It was reported that a Federal High Court sitting
in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and
properties traced to Abidemi Rufai”.
It would be recalled that Rufai was arrested by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on May 14
over alleged $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from the Washington
State Employment Security Department, in the United States. He was
indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity
The court order, covers Rufai’s property located at House 11, Omodayo
Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos and funds in his
accounts domiciled in Sterling and Zenith banks. Justice Tijjani
Ringim made the order sequel to an ex parte motion filed and argued by
a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ebuka
The EFCC joined Rufai, his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment; and
Sterling Bank PLC as the first, second and third respondents in the
suit. Okongwu told the judge that it was essential for the court to
grant the prayer of interim forfeiture to preserve the res and prevent
further dissipation of the defendant’s funds in his Sterling Bank
account. He then furnished the judge with an affidavit sworn to by an
EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s
investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. Justice Ringim, in a bench ruling, granted the EFCC’s
order as prayed in the motion paper.
We at CACOL are elated at this ruling, we believe in the principle of
dignity of labour. It is so shameful and pathetic that some of those
our youths are looking up to are engaging in sharp practices not only
at the local level but also at international scenes. They have
continually drag the name of the country in the mud and are so bold to
flaunt their ill-gotten wealth in public and also find their ways to
the seat of government thereby compounding the already battered
leadership issues we are currently facing in the country. 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 Tijjani Ringim 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 and make them have a rethink so that
together we can all build and live in a corruption free society”.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown
its weight behind the move by the House of Representative to amend the
Establishment Act of MDAs in a bid to curtail revenue leakages.
In a release, issued by the Director of Administration and Programmes
of the anti-graft organization, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the
Chairman, Debo Adeniran, noted, “It would be recalled that The House
of representatives observed that most of the agencies leverage on
their establishment acts to spend their Internally Generated Revenue
(IGR), thereby, denying the government of needed revenue. Chairman of
the House Committee on Finance, James Faleke, disclosed this, at the
end of the first session of the Committee/Ministries, Departments and
Agencies (MDAs) interactive session on the 2022-2024 Medium Term
Expenditure Framework (MTEF) in Abuja. The Committee noted that some
of the acts that warrant certain government establishment to spend
their IGR are self-serving and against national interest, saying the
need to expeditiously amend such acts cannot be overemphasized”.
The Committee also expressed worry over the generating agencies’
refusal to remit revenues due to government, saying their action is
putting a major strain on resources, which ordinarily should be
available for government to pursue its development objectives.
The Chairman of CACOL opined that “It is now commonplace for the
Management of most MDAs to siphon money that were supposed to be
remitted to the Federal Government as a result of lacuna created by
their respective Establishment Acts. Some of them cannot account for
their internally generated revenue while others remit very intangible
and paltry sums of money to the federal government as revenue. This is
a classic example of how much damage corruption and mismanagement of
scarce resources have caused us as a nation”.
Concluding, Mr. Adeniran commended the Committee’s recommendation and
averred that, “the establishment acts which was meant to facilitate
the smooth running of these MDAs have now turned to tools or pawns in
the hands of the management of the MDAs which they use to mismanage
funds. We therefore welcome the Reps moves to amend these Acts so that
any unnecessary spending from the IGR of these MDAs would be seen as
gross violation of the law and punitive measures would be meted out to
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the ruling of The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos which ordered the interim forfeiture to the Federal Government the sum of N241 milion allegedly diverted from the office of the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
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 would be recalled that the Justice Nicholas Oweibo, who made the order, also forfeited a property linked to the diversion – Real Tower Centre Shopping Complex at Plot 1121, Ekukinam Street, Utako District, Cadastral Zone, Abuja – to the Federal Government.
The judge’s order was sequel to an ex-parte application filed and argued by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo. Oyedepo told the judge that the N241m was warehoused in First City Monument Bank and Zenith bank in the sums of N65m, N61m, N50m and N65m.
The EFCC said its intelligence showed that the Abuja property was purchased with funds furtively diverted from SDG, office of the SSA to the President where Mr. Abdulsalam Bawa is a Principal Accountant.
The EFCC then fingered Bawa as the key suspect, adding that the diversion was perpetrated in conspiracy with some SDG members of staff. It also linked some firms, Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Limited and Lankass Global Ventures, to the diversion.
Oyedepo’s application was backed by a four-page affidavit of urgency deposed to by an EFCC operative, Ebunoluwa Amusan. Amusan averred that he was assigned to investigate the damning intelligence report received by the EFCC by some concerned citizens in respect of abuse of office, diversion of funds and monumental fraud perpetrated by some officers of the Sustainable Development Goals, Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President.
The deponent further averred that the Principal Accountant, in collaboration with other staff of the SDG, laundered and retained various sums of money through companies and individuals who made payments for the property sought to be temporarily attached.
The CACOL Chair opined that “It is lamentable that some officers of the Sustainable Development Goals, Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President saddled with the overall implementation of the SDGs, including the timely establishment of institutional frameworks to ensure effective implementation of the Global Goals, an assignment so crucial that those in saner climes are implementing with all diligence, would allow themselves to be moved by their primitive, selfish, wicked and inordinate desire to divert and accumulate public funds”.
The anti-corruption Crusader further added “It is disheartening to note that official corruption in public spheres is fast becoming a norm in the country. One cannot single out a parastatal or MDA of government that has not been hypnotized or enmeshed in this nefarious orgy of corruption at a point in time. We must devise means to stem the tide of this series of breach of trust by government officials”.
“This is why we hail the decision of the judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, who ordered the interim forfeiture of the money and the properties involved in this corrupt act. We would also like to commend the legal team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for diligent prosecution of the case. We have always opined that culprits of official 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 just deserts”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Lagos State House of Assembly for reducing the pension of former governors of the state by 50 percent.
In a release, issued by CACOL on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Director, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “It would be recalled that the Lagos State House of Assembly, recently amended the state Pension Law for former governors and other political office holders, reducing their benefits and emoluments by 50 per cent”.
The House approved the recommendations sequel to the presentation of the report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishment, Training and Pension, Yinka Ogundimu, during plenary. Mr Ogundimu, representing Agege II, said the committee reduced their benefits and other emoluments by 50 per cent, based on the present economic situation of the state. The lawmaker added that it had expunged the provision of houses in Abuja and Lagos for former governors, as stipulated in an earlier law operated by the state. He said that the committee report presented to the House further showed a reduction in the number of vehicles to be made available to former governors and their deputies.
The speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, however, suggested that the former governors should get two vehicles (a car and a van) instead of the three recommended by the committee. Mr Obasa also said the amended bill should provide that the cars be changed every four years instead of the three years recommended by the report.
We would also recollect that Governor Sanwo-Olu while presenting the 2021 budget to the Lagos State House of Assembly last year, was quoted as saying “in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies”.
“We at CACOL have often posited that the continual implementation of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), and other such laws that gave legal backing to the payment of Pension to Ex Governors and their deputies in different states in the country was not only insensitive, but also callous and deficient in human sensibility. It is on record that some civil servants that had served their various states for over thirty years have been on the receiving end of inadequacies in the collection of their meagre Pension and Gratuities while Ex Governors and their deputies that served for a maximum of eight years are smiling to the bank. It is annoying to note that some of these former Governors are still holding public offices and still collecting salaries from the Federal Government”.
The CACOL Boss added, “As we have said earlier, the beneficiaries of this pension already had everything they enjoyed in office paid for by tax payers during their 4 or 8 years in office. They are rich enough to take care of their needs. Many are retirees from other jobs where they enjoy pensions and other benefits. It’s unfair that those who claim to serve people turn themselves to exploiters of the same people who are suffering various degrees of deprivation sometimes based on their misrule. Sometimes, when they serve twice or deputies become governor, they want to enjoy the benefits in multiples. Meanwhile those who served for more than 30 years in various government ministries and parastatals could not access their gratuity and pensions, years after serving.
Although, we commend the Lagos State House of Assembly for this bold step. The leadership of the House has demonstrated that there is an urgent need to step up the governance of the State which cannot be done without prudent fiscal responsibility. We would still recommend further reduction in the pension paid to these ex governors and their deputies. We hope other states in the country would take a cue from this noble act of Lagos State House of Assembly and amend or repeal every anti-people, anti-development and anti-progress law in their various states.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the conviction and sentencing of a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, by The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory for demanding a bribe of $3m and receiving $500,000 from businessman, Femi Otedola.
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, “We would recall that in Suit No. FHC/HC/CR/76/2013, Lawan, a former House of Representatives member representing Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015 and former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy in 2012, was brought before the court over a $3m bribery charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on behalf of the Federal Government”.
The prosecution had accused him of demanding bribe of $3m and obtaining $500,000 from Otedola as inducement to remove his company from the list of indicted companies before the House of Reps Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy.
Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, had told the court that he did not mount pressure on Lawan to remove his company’s name from the list of firms indicted for fuel subsidy fraud in 2012. Otedola said rather, Lawan, the then chairman of the ad hoc committee, got from him $500,000 out of the $3m the lawmaker demanded.
The court found Lawan guilty of the three charges against him and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment for the first count; seven years for the second count; and five years for count 3. The jail terms will run concurrently. The court also ordered him to return the $500,000 bribe. While delivering the judgment, Justice Angela Ataluka, stated that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and found the ex-lawmaker guilty of the charges.
The anti-corruption Czar opined that “We at CACOL, therefore, congratulate the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for a job well done and for its meticulous and diligent prosecution of this case despite the long years involved in the litigation. However, we would like to ask some fundamental questions relating to the case which are as follow:
I. What happened to the Secretary of the then House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Boniface Emenalor who was supposed to have been charged with Farouk Lawan as they were detained together initially? The ICPC should tell us why he is not having his day in court.
II. Does the successful “sting” operation, exonerate Femi Otedola’s Zenon Oil of culpability? We want to believe that if there was no case against his firm, the name of the firm won’t be on the list in the first place. Has the firm been exonerated or cleared by any court of law?
III. What happened to other firms and individuals that were fingered in the fuel subsidy scandal? What is their fate now? We would want the public to know”.
The Head of CACOL also added, “The law enforcement agencies should not wave Farouk Lawan’s alibi aside. His involvement in the bribery scandal could have been a frame-up after all. It could also be due to his negligence nevertheless, he is guilty as charged and we are happy that the law took its cause. For someone who headed the integrity group in the National Assembly, and earned himself the nickname “Mr. Integrity” his argument of frame up should not be dismissed and should also be investigated so as to be sure that those who are fighting corruption in the high places are not sacrificed on the altar of convenience. It is a known fact that corruption criminals are rich, powerful, influential and crookedly smart. They could create powerful networks and most of the times they can attempt to buy anything over including witnesses, evidences and even law enforcement officers and framing up someone who wants to get them to justice may not be outside their purview. So investigators should look into Lawan’s claim of alleged setup and come out with their report. This would encourage other well meaning Nigerians to be ready to come out and blow the whistle when it becomes necessary and do the needful whenever such duty keeps calling”.