A successful war against corruption in Nigeria is crucial for national development.
Corruption has unarguably impeded Nigeria’s development and advancement. The immunity clause in the constitution of Nigeria 1999 has become an impediment and great obstacle in the war against corruption in our nation.
It is imperative that Nigeria urgently expunge, remove and repeal the immunity clause in the constitution of Nigeria, which has been turned into an impunity weapon by too many public office holders in the various levels of government in Nigeria.
It has become clearer by the day that the immunity clause needs to be jettisoned immediately to enable Nigeria fight corruption at home and abroad. Too many office holders in Nigeria are now using the immunity clause as a sort of shield and bullet proof for their criminal behaviors and all manners of gross misconduct, while the hold on tenaciously to public office that was entrusted to them by the Nigerian electorate, whether these office holders are in such position de facto or de jure is almost irrelevant, they are there now!
In ‘A Delicate Balancing Act, Arguing Both Sides of Immunity’ I argued that common good or public good of the majority of our citizens requires freedom of action on the part of public office holders, and a protection against fear of and from prosecutions for actions taken for the benefit of the generality of the citizenry, such freedom of action should not have an impinging cloud, or danger of deterring public spirited actions by Nigerian public office holders, as I argued that immunity has immense value and benefits, if and when it is not abused; But now? Now, I have painfully, and agonizingly come to the conclusion that the immunity clause have become abused, cursed, misused and bastardized so much, the only way out, is to excise the immunity clause from the constitution of Nigeria 1999, just so, we can tackle the culture of immunity which has become so blatant in the brazen criminal misconduct of some Nigerian public office holders
Only last week, I read an article by one of Nigeria’s able and fair commentator, Mallam Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo titled OUTSOURCING THE JOB OF THE NIGERIA POLICE? (www.amanaonline.com/art_1302.razbell.htm). In it, he wondered why Nigeria has resorted to having the London Metropolitan Police or the British Police its parent body do the work that Nigeria law enforcement ought to be doing? He mentioned Nigeria Police, the EFCC and ICPC, etc., as such law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, who ought to aggressively and most vigorously pursue criminals, whether such criminals are messengers or governors of our states and other public officials from messengers to the president of our federal republic. And he is not alone. Many other Nigerians for good or for ill, have expressed similar sentiments or concerns regarding fighting our corrupt office holders at the overseas front.
But it is now as if some of our public officials, indifferent to the ceaseless and inexorable hardships, suffering and abject poverty of the majority of Nigerian citizens, continue to rob our public treasury of our national wealth or resources.
It must be borne in mind that there are sufficient explanations and even justifications for Nigeria’s federal government’s recent actions in seeking help and support outside of the shores of Nigeria to curb the extreme criminalities of some of Nigeria’s thieving officials. First, Nigeria is signatory to a United Nations Anti Corruption Convention and Protocol initiated in the year 2000, ratified by Nigeria and almost two hundred countries; This means that Nigeria can practically seek help from any country on earth in Nigeria’s efforts to eliminate, eradicate and tackle corruption head-on.
Secondly, well meaning Nigerians ought not to really fault the present federal government of Nigeria for taking every desirably necessary steps to curb corruption, including seeking help wherever help and support can be found. Particularly in the face of the blatant and brazen thieving governors and other public officials who continue to pillage and plunder Nigeria despite efforts by our Police, EFCC and ICPC and the courts.
Corruption is a desperately bad and acute cancer. Corruption must be removed from our society and whatever drastic, but not arbitrary or draconian measures that must be used, should be used, so long as such measures comply with due process, the rule of law and common sense etc. Nigeria has diplomatic and trade relations with many countries, and Nigeria must impress it on all countries to help and support our fight against the corruption scourge, we cannot shout loudly about our loathe for corruption and attendant deprivations, and then, at the same time, refuse to demonstrate willingness to quaff the legal and diplomatic measures it takes to accomplish it!
Additionally, Nigerians should and must question why accused public office holders now abandon the time-tested and true defense of self with statements of own innocence, but instead we now see a new mode of defense by our corrupt public officials, which is limited to finger pointing at others who the accused suspect may be also corrupt.
With impunity, the bulk of our office holders are shielding themselves with and within the immunity clause of our constitution as they sneer at our laws and institutions, such as the police, the EFCC, the ICPC and the entire legal system and this has resulted in the continued stay in office of many of our public office holders, despite the clear, cogent, complete and compelling evidence of corruption against such public officials.
For instance, it has been the case, that Governor Dariye is a free man, not in any prison, he has not been impeached, all this, despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption against him, including some of such evidence in pictures and video tapes, and more recently, Governor Alamieyeseigha is also waltzing and wafting with equivocations as he relies heavily on the much abused and misused immunity clause in our constitution.
Public officials in Nigeria and in fact, most Nigerians are quick to declare their passion for all manners of religions, but when it comes to the war against corruption, some Nigerians seem to be quick to forget their religious claims and protestations of fidelity and claims to holier than thou. These corrupt public officials neglect religious injunctions.
How can corrupt Nigerians forget that the Holy Books require everyone to answer for his or her individual deeds? How can Nigerians who believe in heaven and hell forget that it is their individual good deeds or bad deeds that will land them in heaven or hell respectively, and certainly not the deeds of others, good or bad?
This means therefore that any Nigerian accused and accosted for misconducts or crimes, must state their innocence, defend their personal integrity, good character, and good reputation if they ever had any, to begin with! We cannot give prostitutes maiden virgin statuses by referring to other virgins and maidens in the neighborhood, just as we cannot excuse our prostituting proclivities by pointing to other whores in our area.
We do not become sinners, or excuse our sins, because there are others sinning sinners in our part of town! Each person according to the Holy Books must account for their sins and not the good or bad deeds of all others.
Now, will corrupt Nigerians answer the question, are you guilty or innocent?