The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has reacted to the recent resignation of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad over ill health.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The recent report about the resignation of the 17th Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad is very laudable. First and foremost, we would like to commend the courage of the outgone Chief Justice of Nigeria for taking a bold step that is not too common in this part of the world. Although he resigned due to ill health, we hope other public office holders will take a cue from this action of the Ex CJN by quitting at the right time, especially when they have been alleged to commit some official infractions or what is popularly referred to as gross misconduct”.
It should be recalled that, Muhammad’s resignation followed quickly on the heels of the allegations of mismanagement of funds leveled against him by 14 justices of the Supreme Court. It was reported that the justices of the apex court, in a joint petition, accused the Ex CJN of poor welfare, among other ill-treatment being meted out to them. In the leaked petition, the 14 justices accused the CJN of abandoning his responsibilities and diverting funds meant for the running of the Supreme Court. This is an unprecedented development in Nigeria’s judicial history and it will go down in history as one of the highlights of the tenure of the outgone CJN. But the man in the eye of the storm Justice Muhammad in a statement by his aide, titled, ‘Re: State Of Affairs In The Supreme Court And Demand By Justices Of The Supreme Court’, denied the allegations.
“We at CACOL would like to state expressly that all the allegations leveled against the outgone CJN should be thoroughly investigated by the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC), the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the various anti-corruption agencies in the country, swift prosecution should as well follow and he should be punished if found guilty of any of the allegations so as to deter others”.
The CACOL Boss added, “We would also like to congratulate Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on his appointment as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. We urge him to live above board and write his name in gold by carrying out extensive reforms in the judiciary that will facilitate speedy dispensation of justice like we have in other climes while carrying along other supreme court Justices”.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has reacted to the recent raid of an Abuja property belonging to a military contractor for alleged money laundering by officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The recent report about the raid on an Abuja property, is one that is bound to generate a measure of public comments and interests, due primarily to the kind of society we have inadvertently turned Nigeria into overtime and because it is coming at a time like this when the game of politics is being played all over the country.
However, crime has no other name, especially when it bothers on financial impropriety which we all agree is single handedly responsible for the downward socioeconomic situation of things we are facing today, as a country. This is why we need to commend the sense of responsibility, promptness and due diligence with which the ICPC responded to this case.
Although the Commission has come out to say the investigation is still ongoing, facts available for the time being indicate that the property is owned by the owner of K Salam Construction Company, a military contractor. From the raid, the Commission recovered money and other items from the property namely: N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars; customized mobile phones; several designer wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents. Operatives of the Commission also arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau.
“We at CACOL would like to implore the anti-graft agency to intensify its investigation into the case involving this military contractor and come out to tell the Nigerian populace the gospel truth about it. We would like to know if truly the company is associated with anyone currently serving or who has served in government. It is a known fact that impunity and the ability to engage in crime without being punished are largely responsible for the current sorry state the nation has found itself. We believe that it is the moral duty of all Nigerians to be well informed and acquainted in cases such as this. We have always posited that the issue of corruption is too weighty to be swept under the carpet, irrespective of whose ox is gored”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls for probe into the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, implementing agency of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land, Rivers State.
In a press release issued by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Chairman, he noted, “It would be recalled that Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, recently called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, a federal government agency saddled with the task of cleaning up the polluted Ogoni environment to account for a whopping sum of $800million fund meant for the exercise.
President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke made the call in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital on Thursday to mark the six years anniversary of the official flag-off of the Ogoni cleanup programme by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Bodo on June 2, 2016, said there is little or nothing done so far. Nsuke was quoted as saying “Not much has been achieved but corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. HYPREP has received over $800 million and additional N6 billion for water supplies. What we have seen is bribery and looting of the cleanup funds”.
The CACOL Boss hinted “The Ogoniland area of southern Nigeria is one of the most polluted places on Earth. The crops are burnt to a cinder, ash and tar smother the land and the wells are polluted with oil, making the water totally undrinkable. Entire communities have suffered as their way of life has been destroyed by the oil industry and pollution has become the norm in the Community”.
“The effect of pollution on the Nigerian delta has been great. As a result of oil spills and industrial waste dumped into the Niger River Delta, fishing as a means of supplying food for the tribe is no longer an option because very few fish remain in the river. The groundwater is contaminated and is not safe for drinking. The most immediate threat to Ogoni people is oils spills, which have damaged their land dramatically. At least one hundred pumping stations and pipelines crisscross Ogoniland. The pipelines run over farm land and through villages; leaks and spills are a common occurrence. The UN says it will take 30 years of effort to clean up the mess. Amnesty International accuses the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell of turning a blind eye to or even helping the military’s use of rape, torture and unlawful killings amid protests against pollution and poverty back in the 1990s”.
It was a huge relief when the federal Government decided to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land by the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP under the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve the under listed functions in Ogoniland and other impacted communities:
investigate, map and evaluate hydrocarbon polluted communities and sites in Nigeria referred to it by the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) or the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and make recommendations to the Federal government.
implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Environmental Restoration of Ogoniland (UNEP Report) as directed by the HYPREP Governing Council.
Initiate, and develop work programmes aimed at restoring all hydrocarbon impacted communities and sites referred to HYPREP
Undertake a comprehensive assessment and mapping of all environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon pollution, in collaboration with NOSDRA
Provide guidance data to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water in Ogoniland and such other impacted communities as may be referred to it
Technically evaluate alternative technologies to be employed to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water
Make recommendations for responding to future environmental contamination from hydrocarbons
Ensure full environmental recovery and restoration of Ogoni ecosystem services for Ogoni people and other impacted communities.
It is so unfortunate that till now the performance of HYPREP in Ogoniland is nothing to write home about. The agency has not lived up to expectations. The situation in the Community has not improved even with the huge financial resources committed to the agency.
The facts are not just embarrassing but criminally so. How could we have discovered crude oil in Olobiri since 1955, yet, we are left behind by other nations especially the Arabian countries that were blessed with the resources years after us? How can we be proud of our record as the sixth oil producing country in OPEC yet the people of the oil rich communities wallow in abject poverty and deprivation worsened by a very inhuman state of environmental degradation?
We at CACOL believe that it is a tragic narration on our nation, Nigeria that despite the huge resources allocated for projects, when it comes to execution of the project, it becomes a sad story. We want to call on the management of HYPREP to account for all the money collected so far and the positive impact they have made in Ogoniland, if any. As an Agency of government, they must respond to the yearnings of the people of Ogoniland and justify the huge resources they have collected.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for arresting the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari, as part of investigations into the alleged N84bn fraud involving the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director for Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Centre, he stated, “It would be recalled that The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari, as part of investigations into the N84bn fraud involving the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris. We should also not forget in a hurry that sometime last year, The ICPC secured from The Federal High Court, Abuja, a final forfeiture order of over $669,000 in two bank accounts linked to Abdulaziz Yari”.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity. It accused Mr. Yari of illegally taking the money from the state’s coffers while he was governor. According to the commission, the victim of the alleged crime is the Zamfara government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and innocent taxpayers which include judges of courts across Nigeria. It alleged that the former governor used the two companies to launder money in the state account.
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-Governor of Zamfara State to the suspended Accountant General is a pointer to this fact.
“The humungous amount of money involved in this recent case is alarming. ASUU is on strike, our roads are bad, the health care system is nothing to write home about, the security infrastructures in the country is appalling, no constant electricity, no job for the common man on the street yet some people are so greedy and corrupt to the point of stealing and amassing ill-gotten wealth that their unborn children cannot even exhaust. We are particularly perturbed that the rate of corruption, looting and ‘thievery’ under this regime has surpassed that of the former regimes”.
In our earlier press release dated 24th September, 2020, we called on anti-corruption agencies to immediately commence necessary investigation of former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari for alleged unlawful diversion of a whooping sum of N37.4 billion naira, being a refund from the federal government for the funds used by the former administration in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 14 federal roads in the state.
“We at CACOL, therefore, commend the EFCC for its meticulous and diligent investigation of this high-brow corruption issue. We are
The Head of CACOL added, “Inasmuch as we want to commend The EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria for the good jpb they are doing, we also believe that there is an urgent need to look into preventive measures than curative. It will be far better if we can devise checks and balances that will prevent reoccurrence of ugly and shameful situations like this.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has challenged the lawmaker representing Anambra-North senatorial district, Stella Oduah to resign if she cannot respond to the allegation of perjury leveled against her.
CACOL, in a statement signed by the group’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran said, “It is no longer news that Stella Oduah did not complete the mandatory National Youth Service. In a letter by the Director-General of the NYSC which was signed on his behalf by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, the agency said Oduah commenced her NYSC programme in 1982 but absconded. The letter was in response to an inquiry by a group known as the Concerned Anambra North PDP Stakeholders.
It was reported that in her CF001 forms submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2019, Oduah claimed that she completed her NYSC but her certificate was missing along with other credentials. An affidavit she deposed to read in part, “Sometime in 2010 while in transit from Akili Ozizor in Ogbaru local government area to Abuja, I discovered that some of my personal belongings were missing. “The missing documents are the originals of my West African School Certificate of 1978 from Zixon Secondary School Ozubulu, First School Leaving Certificate from St. John Odoakpu Onitsha; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Certificate 1982 from St. Paul’s College Lawrence Virginia USA; National Youth Service Corps certificate 1983, national identity card, United States of America Social Security card with numbers in it.”
If she absconded from service where on earth did she see the NYSC certificate she claimed and swore on oath that is missing? Did she print the certificate by herself? Did she lie on oath? This even to a layman is known as perjury.
The CACOL Head further stated that, “What should not be encouraged, under any guise, is a reign of impunity as the country steers towards consolidation of its democratic culture. This scandal in which Mrs Stella Oduah is currently enmeshed is another major, monumental and massive disgrace not only to the hallowed chamber of the Senate where she is currently representing her constituency but to the country at large.
“It is saddening to note that it’s fast becoming a norm for public office holders and representatives of the people to parade fake credentials and with brazen arrogance and confidence still go ahead to swear on oath with bogus credentials in their possession. Although, we know that a Federal High Court had already ruled that possessing an NYSC certificate was not a condition for holding public office but what happened in a situation whereby the person lied on oath”.
“We at CACOL hereby call on the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, headed by Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to immediately disqualify Oduah who has been screened to contest in the primary from contesting”.
“We also want to implore our election monitoring body, INEC, to intensify the process of screening political aspirants before they are cleared to contest elections. A joint and collaborative effort of all the security agencies would have helped to nip a national embarrassment like this in the bud”.
“Our current situation as a nation demands that public officers and representatives of the people should be seen to be above board and not people who are inclined to crime. It is in this regard that we, therefore, call on the lawmaker representing Anambra-North senatorial district, Stella Oduah to resign with immediate effect and we are also calling on the anti-graft agencies to start her prosecution without further delay”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences.
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, “The arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences is a welcome development”.
It would be recalled that Mr Ahmed Idris, was alleged to have diverted and laundered 80 billion Naira. According to EFCC, verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates. It was also stated that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja. On her part, the former speaker, Patricia Etteh was said to have received N130m through her personal account from Phil Jin Project Limited, a firm which was awarded a N240m contract by the NDDC in 2011. Etteh who is neither a director nor the contractor, but investigation revealed that she was paid a total amount of N130 million by the contractor.
“It is very unfortunate that someone like the Accountant-General of the Federation can betray the trust reposed in him by the Nigerian state, through the very system that trained and supported him till he attained the pinnacle of his professional calling. It is more saddening to note that an exalted office he occupied is being looked upon by many upcoming Accountants and one would have thought he would be more conscientious and scrupulous in his official dealings knowing fully well that many of the younger generation are looking up to him as mentor. The money siphoned by the Accountant-General would have made considerable impact in settling the current impasse being experienced in our tertiary education system which has kept our children at home for some months now”
“For the Ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, her case should serve as a lesson for those occupying various public offices today. They should know that they may be called upon to give account of their stewardship while in office many years after leaving the office.”
“We at CACOL, therefore, commend the EFCC for taking actions against these two people. This is a very laudable and cheering development, considering the multiplier and damaging effects of every strand of corruption perpetrated by public officials whom the country reposed so much trust in and the betrayal they used in repaying such trust. We hope the Anti-graft agency will not tarry in prosecuting them.”
The Head of CACOL added, “The EFCC and other anti-Corruption agencies in Nigeria deserve the commendation and appreciation of all patriotic Nigerians for their resoluteness and doggedness in stamping out corruption from our land. The agencies deserve our cooperation to make them succeed in their mission of bequeathing a more sanitized and corruption-free social environment to all.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has faulted the Council of States’ decision to grant state pardon to the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye and ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, who were both imprisoned for stealing public funds entrusted in their care to the tune of N1.16bn and N1.6bn respectively and other sundry offences bordering on corruption.
The recent announcement by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the Council of States has endorsed the granting of clemency, pardon and prerogative of mercy to 159 out of 162 applications presented to it for consideration among whom are the former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, and former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, came as a surprise to us. We have always used these two convicted ex-Governors as a reference point for the seriousness of this administration’s war against corruption but since they have now been left off the hook, the whole anti-corruption stance of this administration has been messed up, botched and turned into a huge joke.
We are also conversant with the recent corruption cases that were determined by various courts of competent jurisdiction whose judgments we find amusing considering the humongous amount of money involved and the punishments imposed on these offenders. In some cases, part of the money they were accused of stealing was returned to them while some were handed minimum jail terms even with the option of fines.
We can mention the case of John Yakubu, a former Federal Director of Pensions, who was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Yakubu was imprisoned in 2018 by the Abuja Court of Appeal for defrauding the Federal Government of N22.9bn Police Pension Fund. Recently, The Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld the 2018 decision of the Court of Appeal which sentenced him and also ordered him to refund N22.9bn to the Federal Government. Going by the huge amount of money involved in this case we would have thought he would bag a longer jail term but he was lucky to bag just six years.
The case of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), is another interesting one. The Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Maina, to eight years’ imprisonment for money laundering offences involving N2billion in pension funds. The judge, Okon Abang, jailed Mr Maina after convicting him and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on all the 12 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The judge sentenced Mr Maina to various jail terms ranging from three to eight years, which are to run concurrently. It implies that Mr Maina will spend the longest sentence which is eight years in jail. 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. This is another case of a criminal that deserves maximum sentencing but was lucky to bag eight years.
The case involving Andrew Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is another one that must be mentioned. The Federal High Court in Abuja, recently discharged and acquitted Andrew Yakubu of fraud relating to $9.8 million seized from his home in 2017. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), acting on a tip-off in 2017, stormed Mr Yakubu’s residence at the Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna State and found $9,772, 800 and £74,000 in a safe.
The commission arraigned him before Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on March 16, 2017, on six counts of money laundering and other offences. The trial court struck out two of the counts. Dissatisfied with the refusal of the court to dismiss all the counts, Mr Yakubu had further appealed at the Court of Appeal. But the Court of Appeal, ruling on a no-case submission filed by the former NNPC boss, struck down the charges to counts 3 and 4, which border on money laundering offences.
The judge agreed with Mr Yakubu’s defence that the funds were received as gifts in aggregate form and not as a “whole” that could have offended the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011. Mr Mohammed dismissed the EFCC’s argument that the funds were proceeds of crime because they did not go through a financial institution. As a result, the judge ordered the immediate refund of the confiscated sum of $9,772, 800 and £74, 000 to Mr Yakubu. Although, this case may have been lost by the EFCC due to lack of diligent prosecution, the trajectory of most of the high profile corruption cases shows that they are either lost at the courts, or the accused bagging minimum sentencing, lost due to technicalities or granted state pardon even after being found guilty and convicted.
All these are very sad developments for the anti-corruption war, our nation cannot make progress with situations like these. If indeed the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy saddled with the responsibility of visiting the country’s correctional facilities and making recommendations to the President on the exercise of his power of mercy and compassion, to either grant pardon to those that had been convicted, clemency, or some other form of concessions by way of reduction in sentence and term recommended these sets of corrupt politicians for state pardon, we would have expected the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACAC) established in August 2015, with the mandate to promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, and to advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption, to counter that move and advise the president against such move.
Prior to this, we were thinking that the sentencing of Cecilia Ibru, Lucky Igbinedion, Tafa Balogun and the rest of them were too little and a mere slap on the wrist, the present one is like a reward for committing corruption crime and a disincentive for the fight against corruption by civil society organizations who are using their hard earned personal money to struggle to expose corruption, report corruption and advocate for the prosecution of corrupt elements and after that is done, somebody somewhere will just recommend them for forgiveness and they would be told to “go and sin no more”. That means that others that are presently serving different jail terms should also be looking forward to state pardon. It is even better for the federal government to throw open the gates of the Correctional Centres because there is no point in detaining petty thieves while mega thieves are being left off the hook. Moreover, these are people that will go to the field, contest elections and win since they already have the wherewithal to buy their way through and once somebody is corrupt, he’s always corrupt and will want to corrupt anything and anybody s/he may come across. It is disservice to the socio-political development of the country. As CACOL, our main concern remains a total commitment and unrepentant avowal to find, name, nail, shame and shun corrupt leaders anywhere, everywhere! Merciless corruption criminals don’t deserve states’ mercy. Anyone who shows mercy to confirmed criminals is complicit in criminality. Whoever is good enough to commit crimes must be good enough to serve the term.
PRESS BRIEFING ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND SOCIAL INCLUSION IN THE 2023 POLITICAL AGENDA: IMPERATIVES AND COMPONENTS, ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON 30TH MARCH, 2022.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
Corruption, wherever it occurs, represents a decline in our value system as a nation. If left unchecked, it poses a grave threat to our democratic values and our dream of being an ethical and truly developing state. Corruption is committed by individuals who are driven by greed; they steal state resources, business opportunities and consciences of civil populace that are intended to grow the economy, eliminate poverty and ensure the achievement of development outcomes.
Corruption is commonly but, unofficially conceptualized as the misuse of public office for private gain. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the ”State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” (Nigerian 1999 Constitution Section 15.5). Similarly, the Act establishing the Nigerian Independent Corrupt Practices (ICPC) criminalizes corruption. According to Transparency International, corruption is: “Misuse of entrusted power for private gain” (TI 2013). Corruption includes abuse of power, but it is a larger concept and a much more serious issue than the misuse of public office for private benefits. Corruption is the breach or perversion of legal rules, established procedure, and code of conduct or social norms and values in the service of unethical or illegitimate ends. Nonetheless, CACOL defines corruption as any act of dishonesty.
The issue of corruption has continue to draw lots of attention to Nigeria and controversies in Nigeria as a result of the negative impression, perception and reputation that successive Nigerian government has earned for the country in various areas where countries of the world are ranked as far as corrupt practices are concerned.
It is against this background and the need to shift the paradigm of corruption fighting away from the ruling class that has been committing corruption crimes to the right holders who have been suffering the jeopardy resultant from such criminal activities that the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) have had series of consultative meetings with some prominent Community Based, Civil Society and Faith Based Organizations in Lagos State. The fora presented an avenue for us to intimate them on the roles they are expected to play in prioritizing anti-corruption, accountability and social inclusion issues in Lagos State as the State prepares for upcoming 2023 elections. All the CBOs, CSOs and FBOs consulted expressed happiness and appreciation at the fact that such a meeting had been organized to involve them on the roles expected of them prior to 2023 elections. They also assured us of their continued cooperation and support.
From our consultative meetings with the CSOs, and FBOs in the state, it is a unanimous opinion that corruption in Nigerian environment is an act deliberately perpetrated by policy makers and a contradiction of democratic values and principles by politicians thereby thwarting accountability and transparency. Corruption is systemic in Nigeria leading to a particularistic political culture in which values are allocated based on one’s connections in the society and not merit. The weakening of political institutions and lack of political willingness in combating corruption made it a bane for good governance and development in Nigeria. The efforts to fight corruption were sabotaged by policymakers as anti-graft agencies were politicized and turned into a tool for intimidation of opposition.
Corruption is exhibited by elites in forms of bribery, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Corruption has been institutionalized in the entire Nigerian system including political, administrative, and bureaucratic. Corruption in Nigeria has been perceived as a brazen squander of public treasury by office holders impoverishing the masses and leading to low infrastructural development. Corruption in Nigeria is perceived either in the form of grand, bureaucratic and legislative corruption. Corruption in Nigeria can be seen in the jumbo payment of salaries to political office holders while paying the average worker a meager amount not plausible for survival.
Nigeria’s Fourth Republic commenced on the 29th May, 1999, with great hope and expectations in spite of the fact that the process was initiated and mid-wived by the military that had perpetually held on to political power and so lacked the moral justification to convince the generality of the people of its success. Many people saw the development as a dawn of a new beginning for good governance and democratic dividends. However, the euphoria that greeted the return to civil rule has been replaced by frustration and hopelessness as those elected by the majority to represent the people continue to live in opulence that does not conform to the present economic realities. Campaign against corruption by successive regimes has remained mere rhetoric just as the rule of law is mere pronouncement. Although the country has held six general elections (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019), so far they have all been marred in controversies, fraudulent practices by both the electoral body and the security agencies with credibility and legitimacy crises as end products. In fact, it has been argued in several fora that corruption remains the worst problem challenging and hindering the country’s socio-economic and political development. In recent times, many development scholars and public affairs commentators have concluded that the socio-political and economic woes of Nigeria are rooted in corruption.
Electioneering in most multicultural societies like Nigeria is a deliberate agenda of the elites to polarize voters along ethnic and religious lines. As such, campaign messages are usually tainted with sentiments and hate speeches to divert the attention of the electorate from the real socio-economic problems of the state. Although the 2015 Presidential Election has been described as historic in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic journey, emerging realities necessitate the review of the link between campaign propaganda, electoral outcome and dynamics of governance in the post-2015 era. We have observed that high-level campaign propaganda influenced voter choices and ultimately, contributed to the victory of an opposition party in the 2015 Presidential Election. However, the winning party has substantially failed to deliver some of its electoral promises. Instead, it has deployed the state power in pursuit of sectional interests. We believe that this trend can be reversed if key democratic institutions are established and strengthened in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, political parties and candidates are usually seen as representatives of ethnic or religious groups. Individuals have strong attachment and allegiance to their ethnic nationalities and religion since these variables often constitute basis for political patronage and reward. As a result, voters are incapable of making objective political decisions on the basis of the antecedence and competence of candidates, as well as the ideological leaning of the political party. Rather, electoral choices of individuals are informed by ethno-regional and religious considerations, and pattern of voting reflects deep polarization of the electorate along parochial interests. Indeed, political parties and candidates exploit this deep vacuum to frame campaign propaganda that depicts the north-south dichotomy in order to influence electoral outcome.
Political parties have undeniably assumed an indispensable status in the democratisation process given the critical role they often play in effectuating good governance, the rule of law and human rights protection. Beyond this, political parties are seen as platforms through which the mobilisation and enlightenment of the citizens on the policy direction of the state are made possible. They perform the latter function by organizing opinions and attitudes around sets of issues of public importance which would subsequently be disseminated to the electorate through various the mass media. The essence is to consciously modify the voters’ worldview in line with the programmes, sentiments and proposals of the party in order to elicit either objective or subjective support from the targeted group.
Election promises have come to represent one of the fundamental elements of the representative democracy through which hopes and expectations are created and sustained in any society. It is also the larger context of the strategies which political parties adopt to stimulate voter turnout, motivate supporters to vote in an election and, ultimately, determine the outcome of the election. Thus, given the general distrust against election promises by the citizens, the tripodic linkage between campaign promises, election outcomes and post-election governance have constantly remained the subject of scientific inquiry. Essentially, the crux of the inquest has revolved around: inspecting the electoral promises made by politicians and political parties before an election, determining how it largely influenced the outcome of the election and understanding the modalities on ground to faithfully convert these ideas into reality in the post-election governance.
In advanced democracies like the United States and United Kingdom, election avails voters opportunity to objectively scrutinize and analyze the programs of political parties and competence of candidates. Election messages are designed in line with the prevailing socio-economic challenges of the state. In Nigeria, reliance on ethno-religious considerations for electoral decisions as seen in the 2015 presidential elections have polarised voters along religious and ethnic lines. Inciting messages, questionable promises, hate speeches, and campaign of calumny were features of the 2015 presidential electioneering. Absence of issue-based campaign in Nigeria has led to disputed elections, undermined the emergence of competent leadership, exacerbated social crises, and deepened acrimonious relationship among the citizens.
We are not unaware that faith-based organizations and ethnic-based communities have naturally been part of basic consideration in socio-political power play in Nigeria. Our concern is hinged on those demographics that are only theoretically included but practically excluded in the scheme of administering their lives and that of their progeny. They are those that we have earlier stated – the physically disabled, youth, women, displaced people, people in the rural communities, illiterates, etc. These are groups that have constitutional rights to be included in the scheme of political considerations but have no specific rights that are justiciable, that could be asserted, when such people are excluded in the act of governance. We recognize that faith-based tendencies and ethnic affinities have been adequately taken care of as primordial conditions for elections and appointments as government functionaries, albeit we disagree with using religion or ethnicity as parameter for selecting candidates for elective and appointive political offices and responsibilities. It is our belief that the principle of merit should primarily be upheld towards ensuring that it is only the most qualified in terms of technical knowledge, cognate experience and good quality of mind that are the reasons why a person is elected or appointed to serve the appropriate position of authority.
In order to ensure social inclusion in the electoral process, voters must be given information about how to register, where to register and when the registration centre is open. Women, youth, people living with disability, internally displaced people etc. may also need encouragement to register, in particular where cultural norms imply that elections are a male domain, where there is illiteracy or where there is widespread political apathy. In most countries with high illiteracy rates, women constitute the largest proportion of illiterate voters. In some contexts, it will also be necessary to ensure that information is provided in local languages.
Why is it important to foster youth political participation?
It’s a known fact that in many political parties, the relationship between youth and the parties is strained. To break a cycle of skepticism and mistrust, youth can develop the skills and motivation to successfully interact with political parties. At the same time, political parties could be encouraged to create space for them by removing barriers to youth involvement. In some contexts, youth wings of political parties have played a central role, by providing a powerbase for young members, retaining and grooming them, and reaching out to young voters.
Participation is a fundamental democratic right. It should be an end in and of itself to remove existing barriers to youth political participation. From a more purely pragmatic perspective, if young people have the perception that formal political processes are not accessible and/or attractive for them; this can shape their attitudes for a lifetime, with potentially long-lasting negative impacts on a country’s political culture.
It has been found that in new and emerging democracies, the inclusion of youth in formal political processes is important from the start.
Through their active contributions, democratic values can come to life, paving the way for the overcoming of authoritarian practices. In countries where youth led protests have forced authoritarian regimes from power, significant frustration is likely to arise if youth are not included in new formal decision-making procedures. This might have a destabilizing effect on democratization.
Further evidence suggests that youth are more inclined to participate in informal political processes. Activism, protests and campaigns are common avenues; youth are often driving forces behind reform movements. In the current world and throughout history, there are many examples of powerful youth-led protest movements. Youth also tend to get involved in civic, service-oriented activities, such as volunteering for a social cause. Many young people are more inclined to join a tree-planting project, for example, than to join a political party talking about planting trees in the future.
We would therefore make the following recommendations based on the unanimous opinion from our consultative meetings with the CSOs and FBOs in the state:
1. It is our recommendation based on our findings on the field that there is an urgent need to overhaul the whole gamut of election architecture in Nigeria through aggressive and comprehensive reforms. Firstly, there is need to strengthen the administrative, financial and institutional autonomy of INEC to regulate the use of hate speech during electioneering. In most cases, the Electoral Management Body (EMB) lacked the capacity to punish highly placed public officials who violate extant electoral rules and guidelines mainly due to institutional incapacitation. The institutional weakness no doubt, has hindered effective coordination of the electoral processes by the EMB. Secondly, INEC should be empowered to punish any candidates found to have violated the new electoral law by disqualifying and banning them from participating in elections for a minimum of eight (8) years.
2. The statutory functions of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be expanded to undertake the democratic role of political education and enlightenment of the electorate on the borderline between conventional campaign promises and political propaganda. In carrying out this function, the agency must prioritize use of indigenous languages in order to get to wider audience not conversant in English language. By so doing, the electorate would be well-informed on what constitutes a realistic campaign promise and a mere slanderous propaganda targeted at discrediting an opponent unjustly and scoring cheap political popularity. The NOA should also insist that Nigerians deserve the truth and should be told the truth and nothing more, no matter how unpalatable it may appear.
3. The media must be regulated by law to disseminate objective messages during electioneering. Specifically, it must be restrained from being an appendage of a given political party, showing preference for any candidate and serving as tool to disseminate disinformation and hate speeches.
4. The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) drawn from academia, trade unions, media and social research institutes should jointly conduct background checks on contestants and manifestoes of political parties, and subsequently, educate voters on the qualification of candidates and feasibility of their programs. Most importantly, CSOs should organise and insist on compulsory participation of all candidates in a televised debate. In most cases, presidential candidates abscond from debates and only educate the electorate on the policy direction of their parties during campaign tours. In Nigeria, political campaign tours is an inappropriate means of educating voters since actors utilise the platform to showcase their dancing skills, engage in names calling, and reel out questionable campaign promises.
5. Equivalent media fact-checking tools such as the Politifacts which finds out when politicians are making false claims; Truth-O-Meter that tells the voters whether the politician is saying the truth or not, and Flip-O-Meter that tells when politicians are flip-flopping promises during campaign, should be established in Nigeria.. As a corollary, fact-checker would help political actors to articulate issue-based campaign programmes reflecting the peculiar challenges of Nigerian state rather than relying on disinformation as viable means of accessing political power. The utilization of the fact-checking tools in Nigeria could help to limit hate speeches and spread of questionable campaign messages. Again, it will serve as a viable instrument for deepening democracy in Nigeria. However, the absence of these tools suggests that political parties and candidates are unhindered from coining and spreading controversial electoral promises.
6. Financial flow of political parties in terms of their income and expenditures should be closely monitored and the political actors should be compelled to give blow-by-blow account with verifiable evidence in terms of bank statements, payment receipts, etc. to ensure that they don’t overspend and they should not receive cash donations from their patrons or members. All contributions and payments to their service providers, consultants, etc. should be made through financial institutional transfers. Moreover, no politician should be allowed to distribute cash to electorates or people at the campaign grounds. The distribution of palliatives like food, household items and the rest should be limited to electorates at ward level and it should be tied to the needs of the people. The cost of the palliatives and the expenses incurred to distribute it should be manifestly accounted for. Politicians who have emerged as candidate of political parties should not distribute palliatives at all while aspirants at their ward level can do that in order to ameliorate some of the sufferings of their constituents but as soon as they emerge as candidate of their political party they should not indulge themselves in such things.
7. We would also lend our voice to the call for speedy determination of so many high profile corruption cases dotting the various temples of justice across the country. The cases involving Stella Oduah, former Minister of aviation, Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State Governor, Rochas Okorocha former Imo State Governor, Theodore Orji, former Abia State Governor and many other serving Senators still having corruption cases hanging on their necks should be dispensed with as soon as possible so as to serve as deterrents to others.
It is generally believed that corruption is responsible for the perpetual underdevelopment of our country and this had been enabled directly and indirectly by the custodian of the governing instrument which in most cases were not freely given by the citizens through their periodic voting exercises. We believe that this can be corrected if all the available legal instruments are diligently implemented by the wielders of political power imbued by the persistent demand of the citizenry. The citizenry can force the hands of the government officials backward from making corruption a state policy by perpetual monitoring of their activities in and outside of their places of official engagements and questioning them on issues of probity, accountability as well as insisting on the observation of all democratic principles and ethos. This is what CACOL has taken upon itself in collaboration with willing hands in the civil society and the populace to engender with a view to ensuring that corrupt elected officials are not welcome back into their ancestral communities. We believe this will deter others who flaunt ill-gotten wealth from continuing in that trade and ensuring that the innocents of their communities are not polluted to the extent that upcoming political elements will not see corruption as a dignifying career that they could adopt just like internet fraudulent practices is gaining ground among the younger generation.
Thank you for your attention.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for arresting former Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos. He was reportedly on his way out of the country to Houston, Texas in the United States after handing over to his successor, Governor Charles Soludo. It was reported last November that the EFCC had placed Mr Obiano on a watchlist. The EFCC had requested the Nigeria Immigration Service to inform it anytime the Governor is travelling out of the country from any of the international airports, as well as other points of entry and exit.
In a release issued by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, he noted, “Corruption allegations are weighty issues that must never be handled with kid’s gloves or trivialized at any rate, especially when it involves people we have placed in trust of our commonwealth, for administrative, economic and security of lives and properties of the citizenry. If you look at this particular matter that involves Mr. Willie Obiano, you will notice that he had been under EFCC watchlist for some time and it was not a surprise to hear that immediately after the swearing in of the new governor, he made his way towards the Airport with a view to jet out of the country.”
“We would like to commend the EFCC for this intuitive action carried out to prevent the Ex-Governor from evading justice as we believe this singular action will deter others with transient immunity from committing or engaging in corruption while in office knowing fully well that they shall be called upon to give account of their stewardship whenever their tenure expires”.
“Without prejudice to the investigation and prosecution that will eventually follow this episode, CACOL wishes to reiterate the popular adage within legal circle that, ‘he who comes to equity must come with clean hands’, we expect the EFCC not to leave any stone unturned in couching charges against the former governor since it is presumed that his investigation would have been concluded before the end of his tenure. The least we expect is that since he cannot be charged this weekend, we expect that first thing Monday morning he would find himself face to face with the law and we expect EFCC to expedite action in ensuring that there is diligent prosecution with a view to getting an adequate penalty on conviction.”
“If tracking and averting corruption is usually better than detecting and applying necessary sanction as a deterrent, anywhere in the world, the situation is actually truer here; this is why we have appealed to the federal government to set up special courts for trial of Corruption cases, especially the ones involving Government officials, strengthening of existing laws towards ensuring that no corrupt official gets away with looting or misapplication of our collective wealth, under any technicalities or manipulations”.
The CACOL Boss added “based on all our past experiences, only very few governors have been exonerated or have come out without corruption baggages after their tenure of office. On this note, we believe that it is not out of place to presume any outgoing governor corrupt until he is able to prove otherwise, without prejudice to all evidence and witnesses that EFCC could have gathered against him before he was arrested”.
“We would also suggest that anti-corruption agencies should set up a full-fledged investigative unit that would oversee the activities of all elected officials that are enjoying immunity while their tenure lasts and this includes President, Vice President and their families, Governors, deputy governors and their families etc. There should be a particular unit that will follow up every step they take that involves expenditure. That would help them to make prompt arrest and quick prosecution of such officials when their tenure lapses.”
“It is therefore incumbent on the anti-graft agencies to intensify their commendable efforts in tracking, investigation, arraignment and effective prosecution of all corrupt officials to avert a situation whereby the court would be left with no other choice than to order the release of a known corrupt public official for lack of diligent prosecution or perpetual detention without trial”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the members of the National Assembly for voting against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director of administration and programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “CACOL as an anti-corruption and transparency in leadership organization received with rude shock and embarrassment, the news that members of the National Assembly voted against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process. We found it funny that the national assembly voted against bills seeking to give women more opportunities in leadership and governance at this age of our national life. Their action has sparked a protest by some women at the national assembly, who accused the lawmakers of bias. Similarly, Pauline Tallen, Minister of women affairs, said the male lawmakers who voted against the gender bills have no respect for women.”
“We are aware that when it comes to voting, more women vote than men and we believe that the quality of leadership in the country will not change if the scope of selection is not widened to accommodate more youths and women. We believed that setting aside 35 percent of the elective positions for women would have made a lot of sense because right now, the level of underrepresentation of women in key positions and decision making is alarming. Even at political party level, women should not be given only the position of women leader while all other positions are occupied by men”.
Although at our own level we believe that the bill would have been differently couched so that it will not give unintended meaning to the user either today or in future. Instead of ‘Gender parity’ or ‘Gender equality’ gender equity would have been more appropriate because it may be very difficult to achieve gender parity or gender equality but if we use ‘gender equity’ it will make a lot of sense to several people. Also, instead of ‘Gender balancing’, ‘Gender justice’ ought to have been used.
“We are of the opinion that affirmative actions should be limited to appointive positions rather than elective. The polity should not insist on affirmative actions for elective positions because if there are no candidates of a particular gender contesting, you can’t force people of that gender to contest elections but it is easier to apply it for appointive positions. We must also encourage political parties generally to encourage gender affirmative actions, meaning that there should be significant motivations for all genders to contest elections just like the different demography that exist within the parties. It will not be right to insist that if a political party does not have 30 percent or does not succeed in having the percentage stipulated for different gender the party cannot contest election.”
“It is against this background that CACOL has come out to seriously frown at the action of those lawmakers who threw the gender bills overboard without considering the effects on the psyche of our womenfolk in particular and the nation in general. The contributions of some notable women like Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, late Prof. Dora Akunyili to mention a few to the development of the country cannot be easily overlooked. By voting against this bill, these set of lawmakers are inadvertently denying the country of more capable hands of womenfolk who can contribute positively to the greatness of our nation”.
“Clearly, Nigerians would be shortchanged and greater harm would be done to the country by denying us the opportunity of allowing more competent and capable womenfolk to serve their fatherland in various capacities. We have reduced women only to the role of the voters, who are only relevant for the purposes of election. It is quite unfortunate that this is coming at a time when many other countries, even in the African region, are opening up their political space for more women participation”.