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CSOs decry state of anti-corruption fight, malicious attacks on anti-corruption agencies

A coalition of 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday in Abuja, raised the alarm over the state of corruption and malicious attacks on anti-corruption…

A coalition of 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday in Abuja, raised the alarm over the state of corruption and malicious attacks on anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.

Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said that the fight against corruption and malicious attacks on anti-corruption agencies is a serious matter that cannot be ignored.

“Across the country, millions of Nigerian citizens have invested their hopes in our democracy. There is a groundswell of expectations that as our fledgling democratic system of government takes shape; it will address the deprivations faced by long-suffering citizens.”

“However, in spite of the lack of significant and sustainable progress in our nascent democracy over the past 24 years, the people at the grassroots level in Nigeria still maintain their faith in and desire for a democratic system.
“Over the past few weeks, we have observed with great concern, the malicious attacks and deliberate efforts to blackmail anti-corruption agencies through sponsorship influencers, incentivized opinion publications in some national dailies, online and electronic platforms,” Rafsanjani said.

He said that all these are targeted at discouraging anti-corruption efforts and shielding the kleptocrats from thorough investigation and prosecution.

“Judicial corruption constitutes a major challenge to anti-corruption work in Nigeria. The looters have repeatedly used their influence to manipulate the judicial process and system, to block and/or delay the arrest or prosecution of suspects.”

“This blatant disregard for the rule of law has eroded public trust and reinforced the perception that Nigeria’s democracy is nothing more than a facade. Clearly, the judiciary is not living up to its responsibility of ensuring that the rule of law and provisions of the constitution are upheld. “There have been several allegations of judicial officers receiving bribes from politicians and politically exposed persons in order to circumvent the law. This has watered down the respect, trust and confidence of citizens in the judiciary and negatively impacted the fight against corruption,” he said.

Rafsanjani lamented that Nigerians have witnessed many situations where courts have granted injunctions which deterred anti-corruption agencies from inviting and prosecuting corrupt government officials and politically exposed persons.

“Nigerians have witnessed with alarm numerous cases featuring a high number of foreign enablers from Switzerland, Monaco, Panama, British Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom facilitating corruption. Enablers from the UK are particularly strongly linked to Nigerian cases.

“Of course, Nigeria also has a number of domestic enablers involved in cases. Out of 87 enablers captured, 5 enablers are from Nigeria: 3 lawyers/law firms and 2 real estate agents. This is due to cases involving, for example, Nigerian lawyers managing trusts on behalf of their clients that are then used to move funds abroad,” Rafsanjani said.
The coalition among others urged the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) and other political parties to take decisive action in purging their ranks by denouncing and breaking support with their members who are currently being investigated by anti-corruption agencies.”

Members of the coalition are Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP), BudgIT Foundation and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Also are State of the Union (SOTU), Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Women in Media Communication Initiative (WIM), Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Centre Democracy and Development (CDD), Say NO Campaign-Nigeria, Good Governance Team and Femi Falana Chamber among others.

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