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AU Anti- Corruption Celebration: The Nigeria Example

By: President Aigbokhan

African Anti Corruption Day is marked on 6th July every year. The theme of this year is “Fighting Corruption Through Effective and Efficient Judicial Systems”. In 2019, the theme was “Towards a Common African Position in Assets Recovery”. This is the forth edition since the commemoration commenced in 2017.

African Union has plethora of legislation to drive this theme and they have been adopted by Nigerian government. It includes, African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration, Model Law on Access to Information for Africa and Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa. To mention but a few.

Nevertheless, the deliverables of the 2019 theme leaves much to be expected. Assets were recovered no doubt but they were relooted by channels of government.

The Abacha loot was partly recovered but in dispersing it to vulnerable beneficiaries, the numbers towered and the address changed to the detriment of the supposed beneficiaries. Till date, volume of the disbursements went into ‘audio’ account and the last is yet to be heard on that.

Still on relooting recovered assets, the suspended acting chairman of Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who was arrested on 6th July 2020 in his office by police officers in three trucks and he was moved to the Presidential Villa to answer to probe.

He is alledged to have sold seized assets to his friends without due process. There is also an allegation that the suspended acting chairman gave irreconcilable records on recovered funds. The figures on internet is different from what is in government coffers.

He is also alledged to failed to respect court orders amongst which is the unfreezing of a N7 billion Naira judgement sum in favour of former bank chief. One of the complaint against Magu by the masses is that he does not attend to poor man’s complaint against elites. One of such case is the complaint filed by Bishop Ochei against com. Adams Oshomole, fomer All Progressive Congress(APC) national chairman. The national chairman was accused of gross corruption while serving as a governor of Edo State. The complainant brought evidence to the commission in a big bag and the commission failed to arriagn the former ruling party national chairman.

This brings to sharp focus this year’s theme “fighting corruption through Efficient and Effective Judicial Systems.” Emphasis is shifting from recovered funds to efficient criminal justice delivery. AU must as matter of urgency urge its members to obey court judgment save there is an appeal and a stay of execution.

One notable part of the Nigerian case study is that the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) also alleged that Mr. Magu reported some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to him- the almighty AGF. The stand of the AGF is shallow as no law supports both him and the accused. The Commission is powered by law to write to National Judicial Council where a judge is suspected to have breached judicial ethics. On the recommendation of the NJC, the Attorney General of the Federation can proceed to prosecute the accused. The AGF is not the first person to be briefed where there is such suspicion. See NGAJIWA v. FRN reported in (2018) 4 NWLR (PT. 1609) CA 301.

Accepting AGF’s claim above, poses a great threat to the theme of this year. By a criticsl narrative of the AGFs claim on Magu, we we building a strong Attorney General of the Federation at the expense of a strong institution.

Taming corruption through efficient and effective judicial system may lie in theory save there is internal safeguards of the system by its stakeholders combined with external checks by public citizen

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President Aigbokhan is the Executive Director of Freedom of Information Counsel. He lives in Benin City. He can be contacted on +2348032683434

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