A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said the war against corruption will not be won if anti-graft agencies continue to protect lawyers, accountants and other professionals found wanting in corrupt cases.
He was speaking on Wednesday at the 24th Anti-corruption Situation Room (ACSR) organized by the HEDA Resource Centre, the Technical Unit of the Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR) and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja.
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According to him, not prosecuting those involved in helping in the utilization of stolen funds by EFCC and ICPC with the aim to get information to prosecute their clients leaves a gap.
He said members of professional bodies like accountants and lawyers who help to facilitate the usage of embezzled funds should be prosecuted to send a strong signal that the law would take its cause with everyone caught in aiding and abetting corruption.
“When properties are to be bought with embezzled funds, the culprit, in the course of using such money, would have gotten some real estate firms to carry out some investigation because he does not want to be cheated by buying a property already bought by somebody else.
“The estate firm will ensure due diligence to ensure that the property is free from encumbrances.
“Then a lawyer will be hired to make way for the properties to be registered in a false name while the bank manager colludes in the withdrawal of the huge sum of money.
“By the time the investigations are carried out, the anti-graft agencies are simply satisfied with the fact that these professionals collaborated with the investigation by betraying their client and inform them that they are not the target but the client thus the need for cooperation,” Falana said.
He also urged professional bodies to suspend or ban any of their members culpable in corrupt cases which he said will reduce acts of corruption in the country.
Falana faulted the federal government’s direction on the fight on corruption since the citizens were not involved in the demand of accountability from all public officials.
He called for the constitution of National Council of Public Procurement to award contracts as stated in the Public Procurement Act, stating that: “For a regime that loudly proclaims it is fighting corruption, it ought to have the council instead of the weekly award of contracts by the National Executive Council as it is done on a weekly basis.”
The Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olanrewaju Suraju, who accused professional bodies of laxity in sanctioning members who violate their code of conducts, urged them to take actions as part of measures to tackle corruption in the country.