Anti-Graft War: Stakeholders urge Judiciary to expedite trial of accused persons
Stakeholders at the just-concluded National Seminar on Economic Crime have called on the nation's judiciary to fast track the trial of persons accused of corrupt practices. In a Communiqué signed by the Executive Committee of the Seminar and issued at the end of the three-day event, participants expressed worries over “prolonged delay in the trial of corruption cases”, saying it is “creating doubt in the mind of the public as to the sincere commitment of the relevant stakeholders in the anti-corruption crusade”
The seminar with the theme “National Development: The Challenges of Global Economic Crime”, hosted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and which drew participants from all over the world, also observed that “ the harmful effects of corruption and other economic and financial crimes on national development engenders poverty; unemployment; waste, inequitable distribution of income and the near collapse of our revered national ethics and cultural values”
The Communique, which is also called “The 2011 declaration” , noted that “corruption and money laundering distort the economy and result in capital flight which in turn fosters massive economic deprivation and insecurity currently being experienced in the country”.
Participants also reasoned that “critical infrastructure must be developed and protected as a national asset to ensure that it does not fall prey to the vagaries of cyber crime syndicates across transnational borders”.
According to the communiqué, “Nigeria is yet to imbibe the current global trend in legislation as it relates to extra-territoriality of anti-corruption regimes which favors a more aggressive approach that targets the individuals within corporate entities, their accomplices wherever they are in the world as enunciated in the USA Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Anti-Bribery Act.” It also observed that “law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies in the country are not making adequate use of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit's intelligence in investigating and prosecuting their cases.”
Other resolutions contained in the Communique are:
Ø That the attorney General of the Federation should as a matter of urgency re-present the Bill for a Non-conviction Based Asset Forfeiture law as an important complimentary instrument in the Anti-corruption fight and also initiate process for the establishment of special courts for the expeditious disposal of corruption cases,
Ø That the National Assembly should urgently consider reviewing the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act,2011 by reducing the reporting threshold for financial transactions to facilitate effective monitoring of funds movement; and increase the penalties for money laundering offences to make them commensurate with the crimes in order to serve as deterrence to potential offenders,
Ø That Nigeria should as a matter of urgency domesticate the models implemented by the UK and USA regarding anti-bribery and foreign corrupt practices, respectively,
Ø That the private sector must begin to see their responsibility under the Corporate Social Responsibility principle as a compulsory and necessary duty and as charity. The government must correspondingly play its constitutional duty of utilizing public funds in a prudent and efficient manner to provide goods and services in order to make life more meaningful to the citizenry,
Ø That the office of the Attorney General of the Federation should as a matter of urgency finalize work on the National Strategy on Anti-Corruption which will drive the Anti-Corruption which will drive the Anti-Corruption Campaign.
Ø A functional and law enforcement driven Nigerian Computer Incidence Response Team be established to protect consumers from attacks, respond to security incidents and collaborate with relevant stakeholders,
Ø A comprehensive cyber crime and critical infrastructure law in Nigeria should be enacted to provide for effective monitoring and investigation of cyber crime,
Ø That Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA's) in Nigeria should leverage the vast financial intelligence domiciled within the Nigerian Financial Intelligence unit (NFIU) in the fight against economic and financial crimes and terrorism financing,
Ø That there is need for consolidation in strategies amongst LEA's as it relates to anti-corruption, anti-terrorism and economic crimes with each agency having clear scope of implementation and measurable performance indicators,
Ø That all critical stakeholders in the Nigeria project, as a matter of urgency, should publicize and collaborate to ensure the utilization of the freedom of Information Act as a potent instrument for the advancement of the cause of the war against corruption and economic crime.
The Seminar was facilitated by sixteen stakeholders comprising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Central Bank of Nigeria; Nigeria Immigration Service; Federal Ministry of Finance; Federal Inland Revenue Service, Corporate Affairs Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission among others. President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo declared it open while Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President, Republic of Liberia, gave a keynote address at the event.