ICPC canvasses national emergency on graft

Seadogs seeks autonomy for anti-corruption agencies

WORRIED by the devastating impact of corruption on the country, acting Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) Ekpo Nta, has called for a declaration of national emergency against the menace.

Nta made the call yesterday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State at the opening ceremony of a five-day seminar organised by the ICPC.

Declaring the seminar opened, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, said it was time all Nigerians joined hands with all anti-graft agencies to fight the war against corruption.

The ICPC chief stated: “Corruption has destroyed our national and communal life. It has destroyed spirits, visions, goals, aspirations of millions. The more this occurs, the more hopeless our situation in terms of poor infrastructure, pothole-ridden roads, unemployment, dilapidated health facilities and poor educational institutions at all levels.

“In the light of this, every Nigerian and resident should appreciate the problem as a national emergency. We must take responsibility and proprietorship of the crusade, rather than assuming it as the prerogative of the Federal Government to check corruption and related vices.”

Also, National Association of Seadogs (NAS) has asked the Federal Government to make the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) autonomous in order to effectively curb widespread corruption in the country.

The association said the recent exposure of massive corruptions in the petroleum sector and the administration of pension funds showed that the Federal Government needed a paradigm shift in its anti-graft war.

Nta noted that successful anti-corruption programme should have an inbuilt system to check or anticipate corrupt practices, rather than chasing perpetrators after the crime had been committed.

He added: “Such reform programmes and systems must establish a decent

self-regulating and sanctioning procedure rather than chasing criminals after they had looted the common wealth.

“Effective anti-corruption programmes must aim at consistency in service delivery, leadership by example, prompt punishment of offenders, clear audit and constant

inquiries to check abuse and encourage compliance with work and national ethics.”

In a statement, President, NAS, Oscar Egwuonwu, said the association was worried by the wanton level of corruption that had evidently assumed a new and dangerous dimension in the country under the watchful eyes of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The association warned that if drastic and urgent actions were not taken, “things may get out of control.”

While blaming President Jonathan “for not matching words with action” on the issue, the association warned that this “portends grave dangers to the very existence of Nigeria.”

It, therefore, asked the President to change his “kids glove approach to fighting corruption and immediately fortify the existing measures to tackle all forms and acts of corruption in all areas of governance in the country.”

NAS added: “This can be effectively achieved through proper strengthening and re-organisation of the existing anti-corruption agencies (EFCC and ICPC) by making them truly autonomous and independent.

“The government of President Goodluck Jonathan must implement the recommendations made by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe in full. The report must not go the way of others that had been swept under the carpet.

“Investigations into the activities of several, if not all, government Ministries, Departments and Agencies should be initiated immediately, and those services and individuals within them found to have engaged in corrupt criminal acts must be asked or forced to refund such stolen money and be prosecuted accordingly.

“The government of President Goodluck Jonathan must speed up the process of governance in order to deliver the expected gains of democracy. Growing unemployment in the country has to be checked as this appears to be one of the major factors responsible for the proliferation of criminal activities.”

The association said it would deem it as “an insult to honest and hardworking Nigerians if individuals and establishments indicted in the various probes are ‘glorified’ through undue plea bargain.”


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