The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa, has bemoaned the low numbers of prosecution and convictions of looters despite the perceived acceleration in the rate of repatriation and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption in Nigeria.
Musa said while speaking at the two-day Transparency International (TI) SDG Africa Common Assessment Workshop, which held in Abuja.
The Executive Director of CISLAC lauded the role of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), which was established to reform the agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, as he advised the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and implement other required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
He also noted that despite some indisputable evidence, many corrupt politicians and businessmen and women seem to be outside the law and reach of the law enforcement agencies.
He said, “a report by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission claims that in 2016/17, 286 cases were brought to conviction, which would signal a remarkable improvement to 53 convicted cases in 2012 out of 353 court proceedings. However, this nominal improvement disguises the fact that the politically exposed persons have been too often acquitted on dubious grounds. This is unfortunately not specific to Nigeria, developing and developed countries battle the same crisis on consciousness and rule of law in this matter.”
Musa maintained that according to the Thabo Mbeki report, 70% of West African’s losses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) comes from Nigeria.
He said, “Annually we lose over 35 billion USD. This indirect and dodgy movement of monies earned in Nigeria and leaving the country through the backdoor poses a great challenge to our development and economy.”
He also commended the efforts of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, who through their activities constantly and persistently put government excesses in check and urged them not to relent but see the challenges as opportunities to deliver Nigeria and many Nigerians who are voiceless, challenged, poor, impoverished and damaged by bad leadership, insecurity and insurgency, and poverty to the Nigeria of their dream.
“We must continue to speak out, advocate, network and partner for their sake. As they depend and look up to us as torchbearers of hope. Let me also commend the law enforcement agencies and journalists in Nigeria and Africa, who put their lives at risk for a pittance. Anti-corruption agents and civil society activists do not enjoy necessary level of protection and unanimous political support. Numbers of law enforcers, activists and journalists killed in the line of duty are sad reminders of the daily reality and uneasy choices for many of us.
“I hope through this workshop we will develop and forge a common African position on the implementation of SDG 16, that will be used at Policy-level discussions and evidence-based advocacy that will lead to actionable recommendations to accelerate the implementation of the SDG 16 across Africa,” he added.
The assessment workshop is an opportunity for Participants from Transparency International chapters (Togo, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria) to share progress made in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 16 which seeks to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The participating countries would also during the workshop brainstorm on why Africa needs to develop economically, politically and financially in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner.