The Federal Government has said it will henceforth insist on enforcement of sanctions by professional bodies against lawyers, bankers and brokers indicted for corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari said this in Abuja on Tuesday during the Democracy Day anti-corruption summit titled, ‘Curbing electoral spending: A panacea for public corruption,’ organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He stated that his administration was taking stock of the progress recorded so far by the anti-graft campaign and devising new strategies to address existing challenges.
Buhari explained that the outcome of the process, which had been initiated by the Presidential Advisory Committee and all anti-corruption agencies in the country, would serve as the basis for more effort by his administration to, among other things, strengthen the capacity of the EFCC and other anti-graft bodies.
The President said, “I am pleased to inform you that this process has already started with the recent interaction by the Presidential Advisory Committee and all anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
“The outcome of the interaction, among others, shall serve as the basis for a more concerted effort by this administration to close existing legislative loopholes, facilitate collaboration with the judiciary and strengthen the criminal justice system, enforce effective asset declaration by public office holders, ensure sanctions by professional bodies against lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, and other individuals facilitating corrupt practices and ensure comprehensive support and protection to whistle-blowers, witnesses and victims of corruption.”
Buhari added that his government would insist on unconditional return of looted assets kept abroad and strengthen international cooperation through information and mutual legal assistance.
In his address, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda noted that graft only thrived where it was accepted as a way of life, adding that the scourge must be tackled from the ‘top down.’
He stated that many Rwandan officials went on voluntary exile while others pretended to be pro-democratic activists following his administration’s war against graft.
He kicked against the widely held notion that corruption was part of African culture, stressing that a research had shown that beneficiaries of graft lived outside the continent.
Drawing from his experience fighting graft in Rwanda, Kagame said combating corruption had huge political costs, adding, however, that “huge gains can be made in the fight against corruption if we make up our mind.”
The acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said the principles of democracy had been bastardised over the years, stressing that electoral spending by politicians was linked to voter inducement.
Magu highlighted the achievements of the Commission which he said included 103 convictions in 2015; 194 in 2016; 189 in 2017; 312 in 2018 and 406 between January and May, 2019.