Corruption Fight In Political Disguise

Our governance is at it again. The controversy of all is the move to quell corruption. It is disheartening to find out how we mean corruption whereas our politicians in power disguise it. For politicians in this nation, somebody appears corrupt when he is poke-nosing. When he become whistleblower; hence requires intimidation to suppress. These politicians in authority could go extra miles to quench, maim or even kill, to sustain legitimacy and remain in power.

It is remarkable that when ex-President Obasanjo was addressing the National Executive Council meeting of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year; prior to the meeting, the party’s apparatchiks had been mounting pressure on the ex-President, pointing out to him that the former EFCC boss, Ribadu was out to decimate their organization by beaming his anti-corruption searchlight into the activities of PDP governors and other officials. In the view of these custodians of PDP values (whatever these values are), by making the symbols of the party targets of his anti-corruption war, Ribadu is aiming at the jugular of the party itself. The matter becomes more curious when some of the governors that were not given an anti-corruption clean bill of health by Ribadu happen to be those perceived to be the good boys of Aso Rock. In fact, the curiosity is more on the part of those who hitherto have been accusing Ribadu of targeting the political enemies of the President. If those regarded as having political proximity to Aso Rock are now said to be under prosecution or have even been indicted as some are wont to say, then the EFCC should be watched closely.

Today, the EFCC among other Anti-Corruption/Antigraft agencies has turned into a debating club having failed to come up with fruitful decisions on any issue despite repeated meetings since its formation some years ago. The agencies are yet to finalize its rules of business, make necessary rules and prepare its organogram, thus remaining practically inoperative even after 1000 days of its formation.

Ever since antiquity, corruption has been one of the most widespread and insidious of social evils. When it involves public officials and elected representatives, it is inimical to the administration of public affairs. Since the end of the 19th century, it has also been seen as a major threat in the private sphere, undermining the trust and confidence which are necessary for the maintenance and development of sustainable economic and social relations. It is estimated that hundreds of billions of Naira are paid in bribes every year.

This Nation exists to uphold and further pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law and has taken a lead in fighting corruption as it poses a threat to the very foundations of these core values. As it is emphasized in criminal justice, corruption threatens the rule of law, democracy and human rights, undermines good governance, fairness and social justice, distorts competition, hinders economic development and endangers the stability of democratic institutions and the moral foundations of society.

The approach of this nation in the fight against corruption has always been multidisciplinary and consists of three interrelated elements: the setting of European norms and standards, monitoring of compliance with the standards and capacity building offered to individual countries and regions, through technical co-operation programmes.

Following the reshuffling of the EFCC earlier this year, the commission has held several meeting with a sounding-real agenda but could not come up with any concrete decision. The agenda discussed on the bench, in the bedroom and inside the executive chambers but no specific decision has been taken excepting that of sending letters to the finance ministry asking it to release funds for engaging a legal expert to frame the draft rules.

The new agenda would have included rules of business of the commission, appointment of a secretary to the commission, appointment of a legal consultant to frame the draft rules, the draft rules on investigation and inquiry, organogram, the draft rules on appointment and terms of service.

Mr. Larmode; the heads of the commission, however, could not agree on any decision on any of those agenda. The set of draft rules, prepared by the justice Minister and Attorney-General Of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, on appointment and terms of service of the sanctioned 36 posts, was discussed at the meeting. It is no longer a hidden fact that the symbol of equity in Nigeria is not blindfolded as supposed to be; she has her eyes wide open and some of the antics of the AGF may not be unconnected to some of the factors drawing down her blindfold to visualize who she metes justice out to.

The Attorney General’s latest antics call the role of non-governmental organisations who claim to be the conscience of our nation into question. Such affront on our nation’s intelligence must not go unchallenged. The Nigeria Labour Congress and other civil society organisations should immediately mobilise their members in order to frustrate the prevailing ignominious posturing by the Yar’Adua government and counter every attempt to protect those accused of looting our nation. Aondoakaa and his boss should stop hiding their pro-corruption stance behind legal technicalities.

Though the AGF might parade a whole lot of supposed good intentions, Nigerians know that the masses are on the receiving end of the judicial stick being handed out by the learned man from Tiv land; precedent cases of corrupt office holders who were jailed shows that there is much behind the judicial abracadabra we see than meets the eyes. The case of the former governor of Bayelsa State is a pointer here.

If really the AGF has good intentions like he is pretending in a rather macho fashion, why can’t he start from his constituency: the judiciary where he is very conversant with? Why can’t he start from the several arms of his ministry that are not functional and in deep need of salvation? Unlike corrupt judges who hand out injunctions as if they were pancakes. Why can’t he take on the inhuman condition in the prison system which has more inmates awaiting trial than those convicted? And does he not know about the police which have a scandal of their equipment funding attached to them at the moment.

Nigeria has a Justice Minister whose main preoccupation is to help corrupt officials escape with stolen public money. The man, who also serves as the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, was counsel to some of the same dirty scoundrels he now attempts to protect, ironically, with the rule of law. President Umaru Yar’Adua can no longer pretend the war on corruption is not being watered down from the inside. The Citizens for Nigeria has, therefore, decided that the President must let Aondoakaa go, or Mr. Yar’Adua will be on record as ending the hopeful war on corruption in Nigeria. With a president who is bogged down by concerns over the verdict of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the last thing Nigerians expect is for Yar’Adua to condone the antics of Michael Aondoakaa. Undoubtedly, the Chief Law Officer of the Federation is more of a liability to the government than an asset. Aondoakaa has caused the government more damage than President Yar’Adua can ever imagine and time will definitely prove this. Unfortunately, the president appears to be the only person the Chief Law Officer of the Federation is fooling. Or how else can anyone explain the president’s apparent nonchalant attitude towards the opinions of Nigerians and the international community on the various pro-corruption decisions of the negatively controversial Attorney General who recently came up with what appears to be the final nail in the moral coffin of the Yar’Adua government’s half-hearted anti-corruption crusade?

In a rather curious insult on the intelligence of Nigerians, Aondoakaa claimed that allowing the United Kingdom to try his friend, ex-governor James Ibori of Delta State for an offence committed in the UK would scandalize Nigeria. I beg Aondoakaa’s pardon!! Since when did Ibori’s dented image become synonymous with our nation’s image? If anything, it is the likes of Ibori and Aondoakaa who, by their actions, have reduced our collective reputation to moral rags. President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, who apparently is supporting Aondoakaa, should be reminded that the buck for decisions made by his ministers stops at his desk. The President’s silence in the face of public and international outrage over the Attorney General, clearly pro-Ibori, pro-corruption decisions is a tacit declaration of support for his allegedly corrupt ex-colleagues. Mindful of the fact that President Yar’Adua had earlier directed the Attorney-General and all relevant anti-graft agencies, particularly the EFCC, to cooperate with UK on the matter, the Attorney General’s latest posturing about the EFCC and the Ibori saga is refusal to obey Presidential orders. Who is Aondoakaa working for- looters or Nigerians? If Aondoakaa got the President’s support, it is proof of President Yar’Adua’s pretentious posturing and his lack of interest in and unwillingness to fight corruption. Otherwise, what is Yar’Adua still doing with the likes of Aondoakaa in his cabinet?

Mindful of the fact that President Yar’Adua had earlier directed the Attorney-General and all relevant anti-graft agencies, particularly the EFCC, to cooperate with UK on the matter, the Attorney General’s latest posturing about the EFCC and the Ibori saga is refusal to obey Presidential orders. Who is Aondoakaa working for- looters or Nigerians? If Aondoakaa got the President’s support, it is proof of President Yar’Adua’s pretentious posturing and his lack of interest in and unwillingness to fight corruption. Otherwise, what is Yar’Adua still doing with the likes of Aondoakaa in his cabinet?

The Attorney General’s latest antics call the role of non-governmental organizations who claim to be the conscience of our nation into question. Such affront on our nation’s intelligence must not go unchallenged. The Nigeria Labour Congress and other civil society organizations should immediately mobilize their members in order to frustrate the prevailing ignominious posturing by this government and counter every attempt to protect those accused of looting our nation. Aondoakaa and his boss should stop hiding their pro-corruption stance behind legal technicalities.

We have developed a number of multifaceted legal instruments dealing with matters such as the criminalization of corruption in the public and private sectors, liability and compensation for damage caused by corruption, conduct of public officials and the financing of political parties. These instruments are aimed at improving the capacity of States to fight corruption domestically as well as at international level. The monitoring of compliance with these standards is entrusted to the nation against Corruption

If ethical governance is narrowly defined as the constant attempts by governments to legitimize themselves through the establishment of a transparent and honest leadership, the battle against corruption is one of the major indicators of shaping it. Other indicators, deeply rooted in the cherished concept of the rule of law, embrace the emphasis on accountability and transparency, media scrutiny on the government, and the moral behaviour of political leaders and politicians. Due to lack of such rules, the commission cannot recruit its necessary staffers, nor screen the staffers of the Anti-Corruption Commission who are deemed fit for regulation in its service.

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