The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has urged the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to actively promote the establishment of anti-corruption agencies in all 36 states of the federation.
During a two-day workshop attended by representatives of state-led anti-corruption agencies, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of CISLAC, emphasized the importance of creating anti-corruption bodies at the state level as a means to effectively combat corruption.
He said: “Corruption affects us all. It threatens sustainable economic development and ethical values and justice; it destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law.
“It is, therefore, imperative that anti-corruption efforts are replicated and implemented at the state level and beyond. Nigerians need to own the process.”
During his speech at the workshop, Mr. Rafsanjani, the leader of Transparency International in Nigeria, emphasized that the program presented a valuable chance to enhance comprehension of the legal structures governing state-level anti-corruption agencies. He highlighted that these agencies could serve as models for other states to follow.
Mr. Rafsanjani further stated that the workshop would provide existing state-level anti-corruption agencies with an occasion to identify successful initiatives that could be replicated. Moreover, they would have the opportunity to learn from the achievements and challenges shared by the federal anti-graft agencies, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.
“We believe that it is therefore imperative for anti-corruption agencies as well as relevant stakeholders not to work in isolation but develop partnerships and collaborations aimed at providing synergy in our work which will make it more impactful and yield better results in the interest of Nigerians and Nigeria,” he said.
In addition, Bathsheba Tagwai, the Senior Legal Officer of CISLAC, emphasized that the workshop aimed to enhance the capacity of existing agencies by examining their legal frameworks and promoting the institutionalization of anti-corruption efforts at the sub-national level.
Tagwai also highlighted that the workshop served as an advocacy platform for replicating state-level anti-corruption agencies in other Nigerian states. Inspired by the examples set by Kano and Oyo states, more states are now dedicated to establishing independent anti-corruption commissions or similar bodies.
During the workshop, Jonathan Ogunsanya, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, shared that his state has already enacted laws to establish its own state anti-corruption agencies.
He further mentioned that progress is underway to ensure the proper structure is in place for these agencies. However, he expressed concern that the focus on legal frameworks for anti-corruption might overshadow the immediate need for ethical values and reorientation.
Olayanju Efo-Abasi, the Chief Legal Officer of the Oyo Anti-Corruption Agency, emphasized the importance of each state developing its independent anti-corruption agency, emphasizing that doing so would strengthen the fight against corruption. However, she also stressed the need for synergy and collaboration among these agencies to effectively address corruption issues.
Representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Iheanacho Ekele highlighted the crucial role of synergy in combatting corruption and achieving its total eradication in the country.
Babakura Maina, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, pledged to push for the establishment of an anti-corruption agency in his state. He believed that the campaign for creating such agencies should involve not only state governors but also empower and educate state legislators about the importance of enacting relevant legislation.
Ude Nma Chioma, a representative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), announced the establishment of the Proceeds of Crimes Directorate within the commission to combat corruption in line with the POCA law. She further expressed the commission’s commitment to collaborating with relevant agencies to tackle corruption in Nigeria.
In another view, an Assistant Director from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Habibat Pat Eluameh, acknowledged that Nigeria, as a State party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), developed the National Strategy Plan 2017-2021.
However, due to gaps identified in the inclusion of all states, the strategy plan was extended to 2022-2026 to ensure the participation of all states. Eluameh expressed enthusiasm in working with state-level anti-corruption agencies to implement the provisions of the National Strategy Plan 2022-2026.