President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and other regulatory agencies for their doggedness in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The President gave the commendation Monday, 18 July, 2022, while declaring open the commemorative event for the 6th African Union Day of Anti-Corruption in Abuja.
TheFact Daily reports that Buhari, who joined the event virtually, stated that he was very proud of the anti-corruption agencies and other regulatory bodies for their efforts at checking corruption and other criminalities, saying, “I very deeply appreciate them for their sacrifices.” He added that law enforcement agencies in Nigeria must be empowered to deliver on their mandate without any encumbrances.
Speaking on the theme of the event, which was, “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds”,
Buhari noted the swiftness with which the country responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that time was now ripe for more awareness campaigns and investments in the health sector.
Commenting on the issue of illicit financial flows, Buhari enjoined his contemporaries on the African continent to ensure that national resources meant for the continent were not taken to safe havens around the world but were used for the collective interest of the citizens.
He urged the African leaders to support the fight against corruption, stating that Africa would realize its full potentials if corruption was rooted out of the continent.
“We must work collectively to recover all resources taken abroad. We must show looters that crime does not pay by depriving them of the proceeds of their crime,” the President said.
Earlier in his opening remark, ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye spoke about how the world, including Nigeria, responded to the issues of COVID-19 pandemic by generously donating resources to limit the negative impact of the pandemic on citizens, but noted the need to measure the success of the utilization of the resources.
“How well did we fare in the utilization and in maximizing the opportunity for reforms and doing things differently?” the ICPC boss queried.
Professor Owasanoye thereafter highlighted the various measures the Commission put in place during and after the pandemic to ensure probity in the administration of the COVID-19 funds.
“In fulfilment of our mandate, and knowing the proclivity of the society to impunity and abuse, in the very early days of COVID-19, we issued an advisory about the transparent utilization of public funds and donations that were contributed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. We also issued corruption prevention guidelines for the management of these relief funds by the Presidential Task Force (PTF).”
The Chairman said that upon a closer look at some of the activities designed by government during the period, some discrepancies and infractions were noticed in procurement and payments made by some end-users and beneficiaries of COVID-19 fund support, adding that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, refused to grant access to the monitoring team to look at their records, thus, temporarily hindering successful enquiry into their activities.
“These MDAs are flagged and will be investigated for breaches and infractions of the law,” he declared.
Also, in his goodwill message during the event, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Country Director, Mr. Oliver Stolpe, stated that COVID-19 and its ensuing consequences has affected almost every aspect of society and has created opportunity for corruption to thrive.
Mr. Stolpe added that Nigeria has one of the most sophisticated anti-corruption capacities worldwide, saying that the country’s institutions, laws, anti-corruption professionals were a model for many nations.
He therefore called for the transformation of these capacities into tangible anti-corruption results.
The commemoration of the 6th AU Day of Anti-Corruption had in attendance heads of anti-corruption agencies and other regulatory bodies as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
The occasion latter dissolved into a technical session where panelists and discussants brainstormed on ways for transparent and accountable management of proceeds of crime and beneficial ownership information to facilitate the identification, recovery and return of proceeds of crime.