There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria, as a country, has been beleaguered with monumental corruption of high propensity – which is deeply rooted in every facet of our governance stratum. This unfortunate scenario predates our Independence and assumed an unimaginable proportion after Independence, which resulted in a series of military interventions as steps to right the wrong. The military interventions however exacerbated and worsened the situation. Being conscious of the fact that corruption in the country is the primary reason lack of basic infrastructure, infrastructural decay, extreme poverty, high inflation and youth unemployment, etc are the bane of Nigeria’s underdevelopment is the first step towards correcting the wrongs. The government has initiated a series of interventionist measures to combat the menace of corruption in Nigeria to no meaningful avail.
Part of the intervention measures to combat the menace of corruption, led to the setting up of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and later, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through statutory institutional framework as well as strengthening of other existing extant Acts to give more drive to the fight against corruption. However, in spite of all these efforts, corruption still strived unabated and if nothing is done to checkmate this hydra-headed monster, the resultant effect will be catastrophic; because, the country is on the precipice of being called a failed state – as corruption has permeated from the top echelon of government to the least.
It is instructive to note that the endemic nature of corruption in the country has made it look like a normal way of life and if decisive steps are not taken to handle this ugly trend, the legacy that this present generation will bequeath to the future generation is a society where corruption is entrenched as a lifestyle for survival. You will agree with me that the restiveness we are experiencing from the youths of this country, characterised by massive protests, across the nooks and cranny of this nation in recent times, is a perfect example of what unchecked corrupt practices can do to a nation. This is because, in spite of available human and natural resources at the disposal of the country, there is massive unemployment, abject poverty, low standard of education, lack of basic amenities and infrastructures; all because of this great monster called “Corruption”. You will also agree with me that corruption is responsible for the general insecurity, arising from insurgency/terrorism, armed robbery, armed banditry, kidnapping/confinement for ransom, among other vices that are being faced today across the country.
It is clear that the government has tried its best to fight corruption. But all its efforts to combat it have not yielded the desired result because perpetrators of fraud and other criminal activities have assumed a more sophisticated dimension in line with global advancement in science and technology in the 21st Century. As such, the conventional way of detecting, investigating and prosecuting crimes has become anachronistic and obsolete. Therefore, there is a need for the country to invent innovative ways of fighting crimes in line with the global paradigm shift by embracing forensic and investigative mechanisms as a panacea for corrupt practices in Nigeria. It is noteworthy to state that the absence of a robust forensic and investigative mechanism in the country has been the missing link in the government’s fight against corruption.
Undoubtedly, it is on the strength of the above realisation that a group of experts in forensic science and investigation came together to brainstorm on the way forward. The result of that painstaking exercise gave rise to the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria in 2009 – after an exhaustive study of its operations and relevance in crime detection, investigation and prosecution in other jurisdictions like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, among others. Since the inception of the Institute, a good number of professionals, cutting across several professions such as law, security, accounting, economics, medical, engineering and computer science have been trained on the general application of forensic science and investigation in the areas of forensic toxicology; forensic investigation; forensic auditing; digital forensics and cybercrimes, forensic autopsy; forensic law; forensic accounting; forensic nursing; forensic pathology; forensic engineering; forensic psychology; forensic DNA analysis; forensic anthropology; forensic linguistics; forensic deontology; forensic dentistry; forensic archaeology; forensic graphology, forensic entomology, etc.
In our bid to consolidate on the achievements of the Institute and having realised the critical role it can play in the fight against corruption, which is one of the cardinal policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the Institute, after embarking on series of consultations with relevant stakeholders and a comparative analysis of what obtains in other jurisdictions saw the need for the government to institutionalise the activities and scope of the operations of the Institute – through the adequate legal framework for professionalism and proper regulation and coordination of forensic and investigative practices in Nigeria. Accordingly, a Bill titled, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria was introduced in the 8th National Assembly, which sought for the establishment of the statutory framework for the Institute. The Bill scaled through all the requisite legislative processes and was sent to Mr President for Presidential Assent, which was not granted before the dissolution of that Assembly in 2019.
However, in view of its strategic importance and relevance to the socio-economic well-being of Nigeria, the Bill was reintroduced in the present 9th National Assembly. And in line with the legislative requirements, the Bill was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Currently, it is before the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for Presidential Assent. On this note, we wish to reiterate our unreserved appreciation and gratitude to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, led by Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan PhD, CON, the President of the Senate; and the House of Representatives, led by Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, for their show of courage, patriotism, resilience and firm grasp/ understanding of the dynamism of enacting legislations that can meet the realities of our time, and as well as meeting the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. Posterity, no doubt, will remember them for good for this noble gesture.
Accordingly, we are calling on stakeholders and other well-meaning Nigerians to support this patriotic initiative in order to put our country on the right track of development; by urging our President, who is known for his zero tolerance for corruption, to nipping it in the bud by signing “The Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill” of 2021 into law. This will enable us, as an Institute, to put machinery in place that will foster and boost the anti-corruption drive of this administration. We believe that Nigeria can be put on the path of progress once and again, and for this to happen, Nigeria must be rid of its current state of corruption. This can be made possible when we have the required mechanism, like the one proposed in the legislative instrument, before Mr President for Assent, or signing into law, as an Act of the National Assembly.
It is opposite to state that the territorial imperative of the innovative concept of forensic science and investigation is so broad and all-inclusive. Virtually, in every aspect of human endeavour where corruption is perpetrated, a searchlight, beamed through forensic and investigative analysis, remains one of the most viable and potent ways to crack high level and sophisticated crimes, which have evolved over time. Forensic science provision in England and Wales is pivotal to the enhancement of the quality of their current position, which sees a system of standards in place for many forensic science disciplines and providers to comply with the required standards, through the process of proper regulation and accreditation. Therefore, in our efforts to achieve the challenging ambitions of other jurisdictions, which have excelled in this viable sector, we must ensure that there is a level playing field for the provision of forensic services, within the contemplation of well reformed and expanded responsibilities for regulation and monitoring in compliance with set standards.
In conclusion, we wish to call on all Nigerians to support us in this noble assignment. The task of nation-building is a collective task that involves each and every one of us. We have no other country other than this country. Therefore, we must come together as one people to harness our resources in order to have an egalitarian society that we all would be proud of. We wish to also appeal to our distractors to join us in this patriotic assignment by desisting from their campaign of calumny and avoid playing to the gallery. Our counsel is that in an atmosphere where peace and stability strives, an advocate who is too narrow-minded and parochial to be credible will soon lose his respect and credibility. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Dr (Mrs). Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM
Pro-tem President, CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA