Thursday, September 28, 2017 3:13 pm
A Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, on Thursday lauded the establishment of a committee to monitor grand corruption cases in the country, saying it will give fillip to the anti-graft war.
Oyebode also hailed the appointment of a former President of the Court of Appeal, retired Justice Ayo Salami , as the chairman of the committee.
He spoke in Lagos at a strategic roundtable entitled, “Mobilising the Citizens to Demand Anti-corruption Reforms and an End to Impunity for Grand Corruptions in Nigeria.”
The roundtable was organised by the Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with the National Endowment Fund, USA.
lThe News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, had on Wednesday announced the setting up of Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COMTRIM) with Justice Ayo Salami as chairman.
“It is a step in the right direction. It is hardly an exaggeration that corruption has leveled, perhaps, the most virulent attack on Nigeria’s body politic.
“Despite all the hues and cry over the debilitating consequences of corruption on the country’s socio-political fabric, it is sad, but true that the virus has continued to fester in leaps and bounds.
“So pervasive has corruption become that it is now conventional wisdom that if drastic measures are not put in place to contain it, corruption might ultimately result in the mortality of Nigeria as a nation-state,’’ Oyebode, a former Vice-Chancellor of Ekiti State University, said.
Oyebode maintained that grand corruption had prevented Nigeria from attaining its potential in the comity of nations, adding that this would continue until the people would demand for accountability from their leaders.
According to him, the inability of the government to bring perpetrators of grand corruption to justice and the hero-worshipers of these individuals in the society had made corruption almost a culture in Nigeria.
“First and foremost, the people must be made aware of the nexus between corruption by the political leadership and their niggardly circumstances.
“Once they realise that misappropriation of the nation’s resources by leaders at various levels leads to their impoverishment, their approval and support for all measures adopted to contain graft and unjust enrichment within the polity becomes pretty well assured.
“People must be enlisted in the war against corruption by encouraging them to engage in mass action through their participation in mass rallies, street demonstrations, public debates and writes-up in the mass media against corrupt practices,’’ Oyebode said.
Also speaking, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) , expressed reservations about some of the lawyers appointed into the committee based on their antecedents for allegedly frustrating speedy conclusion of corruption trials.
He, however, noted that with the new system put in place by the Chief Justice, high profile corruption cases would be concluded within six months.
Earlier, Mr Abiodun Aikhomu, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), restated the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to the anti-corruption war.
“We have a President today who is committed to fighting corruption, who knows that stealing is corruption and is doing a lot of things to curb corruption.
“Corruption has attained legitimacy in Nigeria and we have all unfortunately contributed to it,” he said.
Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive Director of SERAP, in his address, condemned the bill seeking to regulate Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria currently before the National Assembly.
He urged Nigerians to resist the passage of the bill, saying it will affect their capacity to mobilise and demand accountability from their leaders.