Civil Society Organisations(CSOs), have said that the corruption challenge facing many countries of which Nigeria is part of, can be properly tackled if Member States of the African Union, practically commits to the ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC).
This was the crux of a one day workshop organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), in conjunction with Transparency International (TI) and State of the Union(SOTU) Coalition, held in Abuja on Friday.
The workshop which is aimed at strengthening Civil Society’s contribution to the African Union’s Anti-Corruption efforts and commitments during the 2018 African Anti-Corruption year and beyond, is part of a project titled, “Towards Enforcement of Africa’s Commitments Against Corruption(TEA-CAC).
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa, stated that the declaration of 2018 as the year of Anti-Corruption by the African Union Assembly, provides a rallying point for all actors to consolidate gains made and to ensure greater progress in the fight against corruption in Africa.
Musa, who was represented by the Director of Legal, Barr. Adesina Oke, stated that the TEA-CAC project aims to contribute to reinforcing the Anti-Corruption commitments of State Parties to the convention, so as to attain the objectives contained there in.
“The workshop is targeting the building of capacity to further the improvement and implementation of the overall convention and its commitments. There is need to consciously implement those things that will at least, if not eradicate corruption in our country but reduce it” he said.
CSOs and the media used the opportunity to look critically at what can be done to enhance the implementation of the convention, beyond the gaps, so as to create more awareness as well as increase knowledge and understanding of the AUCPCC in order to address the gaps.
Speaking on the session, “Understanding of the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) in Nigeria”, the Convener, Good Governance Team, Tunde Salman, noted that the Civil Societies need to work closely with National Authorities in Nigeria to ensure that the needed legal resources to address and combat corruption is in place, adding that the media is also important to achieve the popularization of the convention.
According to him, “When you have transparency and accountability particularly in the public sector, it minimises and reduces corruption. There are preventive approach and litigation approach in terms of litigation but prevention to my own little understanding is better than cure.
“If it is possible to reduce and prevent corruption, it will have a multiplier effect even on the level of corruption perception in the country.
Also, a Resource Person, Mrs. Chinwe Ndubeze who spoke on the “AUCPCC implementation in Nigeria: Gaps and way forward”, said there is a need for legislative and other measures to:
“Criminalize acts of corruption listed under the convention; Establish, maintain and strengthen independent national Anti-Corruption agencies; Strengthen internal control measures to ensure that foreign companies respect and adhere to national laws, maintain internal accounting, audit and follow-up control measures especially as it relates to public income. Customs, taxes, procurement, management of public funds and such; Protect informants and witnesses in corruption and related offences”.
She further noted that more awareness needs to be created about the AUCPCC , to ensure improvement on the review and reporting processes of the AUCPCC for monitoring and compliance purposes; Strengthen informants and witness protection in corruption related cases; (Payment of witness expense where necessary); Criminalize illicit enrichment; Enact law to permit civil forfeiture (Proceeds of Crime Act) and to Encourage enforcement agencies to abide by the AUCPCC principles.
On the way forward and advocacy engagement, participating CSOs stressed the need for all Nigerians to see the fight against corruption as a great responsibility and to put their hands on deck to ensure that illicit financial flow is curtailed.
Also, CSOs were encouraged to work more collaboratively with government using the Open Government Partnership and to close ranks with each other to ensure that the issues of corruption would be laid to rest.
Furthermore, Strengthening of political will to take up the fight against corruption, making political positions less attractive and less lucrative to reduce the tendencies of engaging in corrupt practices and making the public positions service oriented as well as general reorientation of Nigerians were listed as ways to help implement the AUCPCC and combat corruption.
The AUCPCC is a fundamental instrument with provisions that can help solve the corruption challenges on the continent, if implemented.