Speaking on Tuesday at the 20th-anniversary regional webinar organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC), Professor OSinbajo said the nation must at all times prioritize the fight against graft and all other corrupt practices.
In his speech titled, “Combating corruption and illicit financial flows: New measures and strategies.” and made available to journalists by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, the Vice President warned that aside from the difficulties, many people will also get frustrated for standing against corruption.
“The fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, it is not going to get easier by the day, as a matter of fact, it will get more difficult by the day and many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption.
“But it is our duty both as individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that we prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra-headed problem itself continue to manifest in different ways,” the Vice President stated.
He said secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership is one major issue which the international community must work together to solve. Adding that for the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment.
BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE VICE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS:
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO SAN, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY AFRICA REGIONAL WEBINAR OF THE ICPC THEMED COMBATING CORRUPTION AND ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS: NEW MEASURES AND STRATEGIES
Let me say first, how very pleased I am to be a part of this celebration, joining the ICPC Board, Management and staff to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this important national and regional institution.
20 years have passed since we passed the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and set up the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission as the first anti-corruption agency, in Nigeria and possibly in the region. This was three years before the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted, and five years before UNCAC came into effect. So, in many ways, you are pioneers of the anti-corruption struggle in our region and indeed in very many parts of the world.
The three-fold mandate of ICPC remains relevant today as it was 20 years ago namely:
*enforcement of laws against corruption,
*prevention of acts of corruption and
*public education and enlightenment against corruption.
Our government has supported the fulfillment of this statutory mandate first by demonstrating the political will and support for anti-corruption measures from the Number one citizen of Nigeria, the President himself. We have seen that demonstrable political will and that political will has afforded all our anti-corruption agencies the latitude to do their work without interference.
Secondly, by taking measures that reinforce the prevention mandate of ICPC: For example the enforcement of the TSA policy; strict application of BVN which is the biometric information required for opening of bank accounts and fro maintaining bank accounts; strengthening of the e-government system comprising GIFMIS and IPPIS which are electronic platforms for managing human resource material in the public service and also for budgeting purposes; the launching late last year of the open treasury portal through which payments for works, goods, and services may be monitored globally, and by encouraging the use of the Freedom of Information Act by civil society to elicit information from government agencies.
The public education and citizen engagement mandate is supported by the government’s encouragement of a vibrant role for citizens, the media and civil society in the anti-corruption crusade.
Besides, both the ICPC, & the EFCC have held several public participation campaigns to encourage civic participation in the anti-corruption struggle.
The theme of this webinar COMBATING CORRUPTION AND ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS: NEW MEASURES AND STRATEGIES, I think, again just reminds us that corruption remains a scourge to our development aspirations and has become for us in the developing world, an existential issue.
Over the years, massive public resources and assets have been directly stolen, diverted, deliberately misapplied to gratify corrupt tendencies, stashed in foreign jurisdictions or mired in and susceptible to pilferage by the inequitable and unjust international economic system that continues to undermine the social and economic development aspirations of poor countries especially from Africa.
Without effectively combating corruption and IFFs and promoting international cooperation for asset recovery and asset return, Africa cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 16 of the SDGs is devoted to corruption. Specifically, Target 16.4 commits that: “By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial flows and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.”
Both the UN General Assembly and the African Union have committed to measures to fight corruption and stem IFFs. UNCAC and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption have remained the touchstone of the fight against corruption and IFFs. Other initiatives include the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the AU Assembly Special Declaration on Illicit Financial Flows. More recently, the UN General Assembly Resolution 74/206 of 19 December 2019 commits to the promotion of international cooperation to combat Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and strengthen good practices on asset return to foster sustainable development.
Nigeria has demonstrated leadership in the advocacy for collective efforts to stem IFFs from Africa and has also been at the forefront of advocacy for stemming IFF and promoting international cooperation for asset recovery and asset return at the UN General Assembly. As the AU Champion on Anti-Corruption, President Buhari in his report to the ASSEMBLY OF THE UNION, Thirty-Second Ordinary Session and at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to continue to “advocate for the facilitation of recovery of illicit financial assets.”
Towards this end, Nigeria proposed the Draft Common African Position on Asset Return (CAPAR) at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU in February 2020 at which the CAPAR was adopted. I am aware that Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman ICPC was a member of the Working Group that produced the CAPAR.
One more matter of concern that the international community must work together to solve is the matter of secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership.
For us in the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment. Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, nevertheless secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption.
Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.
At the May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit, President Muhammadu Buhari made a commitment to establish a public register of the beneficial owners of all companies operating in Nigeria. Following that commitment, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in December 2016 and subsequently submitted a National Action Plan prioritizing the establishment of an all-encompassing and publicly accessible register.
Nigeria is in the process of amending its corporate law to implement these measures and mandate the disclosure of beneficial interest in a company’s shares and prescribe punitive measures for failure to disclose.
We are mindful of the challenges dogging advocacy for stemming IFFs, promotion of asset recovery and return to victim countries, and enforcement of beneficial ownership disclosure not just in our country but globally.
We note for example, the resistance of some countries to stemming illicit financial flows, curbing tax evasion, support asset return to countries of origin and we note that laws passed in some developed countries to mandate beneficial ownership disclosure do not set examples for best practice as they do not cover territories and dependencies where most of the stolen assets from developed countries end up.
I sincerely hope this regional webinar will advance the advocacy further and bring up innovative solutions to these internationally shared concerns.
Let me conclude by saying there is no magic bullet to ending corruption, stemming IFFs or promoting asset recovery and return. We simply must work hard at it and be determined to succeed. We must make corruption expensive for those who engage in it and send the unequivocal message that corruption simply does not pay.
We must also make all members of the international community see the benefit of shared prosperity and inclusive growth and development. It is the unenviable but noble task of ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies to make corruption unattractive to its disciples and facilitate new approaches to stemming IFFS and promoting asset recovery and return.
As you ruminate on the key issues to dominate the UN General Assembly Special Session on Corruption in 2021, I urge you to come up with concrete proposals for Nigeria to take to the UN and also for all of our colleagues in the region, to take to the United Nations in order to begin to positively shape policy in a way and manner that best promotes the interest of our country and region.
Domestically we must also be prepared to change, to some extent, our tactics in the fight against corruption. Listening to Edward Kallon (The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria who spoke earlier), I am convinced that there are many practical steps that can be taken.
We must democratize the fight against corruption. Many of our citizens are interested in the fight against grand corruption. Grand corruption as you know cripples the economy. But they also want to see action in what would be regarded as petty corruption – in their interfaces with government officials either in the search for certifications, approvals of any kind, licenses, and all of that. Many want to see that corruption at that level is tackled effectively. And I think that we must begin to look at innovative ways of doing so.
Secondly, we must protect, even more, whistle-blowers – persons who come forward with information against corruption. We must protect those who are ready to fight against corruption and who are prepared to do so without necessarily disclosing their identities and even those who are ready to disclose their identities.
The thing that we must take note of is that corruption fights back. And it is fighting back and it has the resources to do so. In recent times, one of the chief ways that we are seeing more frequently is the use of unscrupulous individuals who are paid to use social media platforms to make outrageous allegations against persons perceived to be fighting corruption. The technique is not new, the idea is to tie everybody with the same tar so that you cannot recognize the truly corrupt or the truly corrupt activity, and the genuine whistle-blowing is discredited as a result. And because our court system is slow, they count on the possibility that these victims may not pursue litigation or prosecution: you must devise a new legal strategy to ensure that this dirty trick not only fail but are penalized.
The fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, it is not going to get easier by the day, as a matter of fact, it will get more difficult by the day and many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption. But it is our duty both as individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that we prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra-headed problem itself continue to manifest in different ways.
I am happy to note that the ICPC has creditably discharged itself of its mandate in the past twenty years. This is no doubt due to the solid leadership it has enjoyed from inception through the first Board led by the late Hon Justice Mustapha Akanbi, then Hon. Justice Olayinka Ayoola, and then Mr. Expo Nta and the current 4th Board led by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, and the tireless effort of its management and staff.
I wish you all a happy 20th anniversary celebration. Government looks forward to the recommendations of your conference towards improving the fight against and ultimately defeating corruption.
Thank you very much God bless you all
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
14th July 2020
Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers
Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.
The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.
Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.
During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.
In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.
One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.
Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.
This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.
The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.
We Didn’t Bathe for 56 Days in Kidnappers’ Den –Freed Afaka Students
It was jubilation galore as 27 kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna were reunited with their families after 56 days in captivity.
Tears of joy flowed freely from both parents and their children. At about 3pm, the entire premises of the college, located along the Kaduna International Airport, opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy, erupted in jubilation as the students were being escorted by heavily-armed policemen in company with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, and the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri.
Narrating their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Zakariya Magaji, described the kidnappers’ den as hell, saying he would never wish the experience for his enemies.
“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”
A female student, Sarah Sunday, said she and her colleagues were subjected to all sorts of dehumanising conditions, including not being allowed to take a bath while in the bandits’ den.
Sunday said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We were subjected to hunger. We were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising experiences. We were insulted but thankfully, they did not molest or kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”
Asked if they were fed at all, Sunday said, “The boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We cooked tuwo with miyan kuka, and tuwo with dry okra. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked spaghetti once too.”
When asked whether the abductors used to leave them to go out for other operations, Sarah said, “Yes, they used to go out, but they always left some of their armed members to stay with us.
“Even our male colleagues who used to go and fetch water were always escorted to the stream by gang members bearing AK-47 rifles.
“Our living condition in the jungle was very bad. We never had a bath. We were exposed to the rain. Athough there was a hut that we always ran to hide whenever it was raining, still there was no escaping the rain because the hut was poorly built. But we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”
‘Bandits said our abduction was to get govt’s attention
Also speaking, a freed student, Pamela Ibrahim, said the bandits said their grouse was with the government and vowed to unleash hell on Kaduna State.
Ibrahim said, “Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they didn’t have anything against us (students). They said they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them and that they also wanted to be educated like other Nigerians. They need work and houses too.
“They said if the government doesn’t settle with them, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is unsafe. They said they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians, others are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani (language) and Hausa.
“There was an old man among them who prevented others from harassing us and anytime he was not around, we were beaten and insulted.”
In a jubilant mood, one of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, said he was glad that his daughter was freed few days to her elder sister’s wedding.
Hassan said, “I was confused; my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.
“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they had been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is double joy for me.”
Another parent, Mr Friday Sanni, said before he could allow his two daughters – Victory and Rejoice – to return to the college, he must be assured of adequate security in the school.
Sanni said, “The truth remains that if my children must come back here, I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on the ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again.
“If in few months’ time nothing serious is on the ground, I will move my children out, because they are too dear to me.
“The first one will be 20 years old by September while the second one will be 18 by November. They are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again. I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life.”
Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the freed students had undergone medical tests and were fit to be reunited with their parents.
“As we speak, the victims are all clinically stable,” he said.
He urged the students not to allow their ordeal to discourage them from pursuing their education.
Speaking on the process leading to their release, Muri said, “The federal and the state governments as well as the acting Inspector-General of Police, the state police command, the military and other sister security agencies adopted the best modus operandi at our disposal and 10 of the students were first released on April 5 and 8 in two batches.
“With this sustained effort, the remaining 27 kidnapped students were subsequently released to the command on May 5, at about 4.10pm without any casualty.”
The police commissioner said concerted efforts were being made to also secure the release of the abducted students of Greenfield University, who had been in captivity since April 20.
The Provost of the college, Dr Muhammad Bello, who received the students, appreciated all those involved in the process to get the students released.
“You should not be discouraged from pursuing your dreams,” Bello told the students.
Food Security: AFAN Set to Commence Court Action Against Agric Minister
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has initiated legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono over his stance to destabilise the body’s internal democracy structure and impede farmers efforts at working harmoniously with the federal government in attaining food security.
In a release signed by the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the umbrella body of farmers in the country, Salisu Mukhtar, the body noted that the undue interference of the minister, rooted in vendetta by insistently recognising an illegal faction, was at cross-purposes with its constitution and counter-intuitive to the rule of law.
“Upon the appointment of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono as HMA, who was once removed as acting Chairman of AFAN Kano State chapter in 2007 for misappropriating fertilizer, the undue interference in AFAN activities began.”
According to the body, AFAN being an NGO is not a department in FMARD and cannot be controlled or destroyed by any individual no matter how highly placed.
“Actions of the HMA which have become a mockery of the law include recognising an unconstitutional and illegitimate leadership faction of the association by playing host to them in his office on several occasions and accepting invitations by them in the full glare of the public, in spite of knowledge of the pending court case.
“This polarising act by a minister representing a constitutionally recognised administration of President Buhari, is undoubtedly antithetical to the rule of law and democratic norms, which are the bedrock of the administration he is serving under,” Murktar said.
The association is asking that the matter which is in Court 9 of the Federal High Court (FHC) before Justice Taiwo Taiwo should be allowed to be resolved, especially by the Plaintiffs who filed the suit in the first place.
“The minister’s actions are directly inimical to the economic progress of the sector which is also hinged on the leadership stability of the private sector stakeholders which AFAN represents.
“Farmers as an extension of the national polity, who participated in and voted overwhelmingly for this administration, are irked by the actions of the minister, which is inadvertently truncating the association’s efforts at enjoying internal democracy nationwide.
“To act in any way by the minister, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer or the Plaintiffs themselves, before the determination of the suit is lawless and adjudged a contempt of court.
“Justice must be allowed to take its course if AFAN is to continue to exist as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria,” Murktar said.
The body stated that AFAN was registered in 2005 by the CAC with reg: 18160 and three registered Trustees namely Murtala Nyako, Dr Shettima Mustafa and Chief Femi Coker as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria.
Murktar explained that: “President Olusegun Obasanjo advised then that Murtala Nyako should head the management of AFAN as National President and the duo of Chief Femi Coker and Shettima Mustafa to be deputies 1 and 2 respectively pending general election.
“All other officers were appointed as interim management members in the same manner.
“AFAN elections did not hold until after Abdullahi Adamu former governor of Nasarawa State became the President.
“The elections from the Wards of 774 LGAs to the 36 states plus FCT took nearly two years to be concluded.
“The National Election was conducted in 2014 and the elected Executives duly inaugurated.
“From this point on AFAN began to be recognized as the umbrella of all farmer-associations in Nigeria guided by its constitution as an NGO.”
AFAN on the 6th of May, 2021, served the minister a pre-action notice through their attorney A.O Okeya and Associates for legal actions against his person, for unduly interfering and recognising the Mr Faruk Rabiu faction in the capacity of leaders of the association.
The pre-action notice accused Rabiu’s faction of circulating letters to AFAN state chairmen across the 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, under the directive of the minister asking them to purchase inputs supplied by the ministry through them at exorbitant prices.
According to the association’s attorney: “We were informed that on the 26th of April, 2021, the said Faruk Mudi through his Counsel M.M Bakari Esq, wrote a letter to your office intimating you about an election conducted by them, which you directed the Permanent Secretary of your ministry to advise all agencies to recognise this illegal faction, knowing fully well that there is a pending matter at the Federal High Court 9 Abuja.”
“From the above, we demand that you desist from dealing, transacting, aiding and encouraging Faruk Mudi & Co to stop using your office to perpetrate injustice, as the leadership tussle is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Take notice therefore that this is a pre-action notice, as we shall seek redress in the law court and demand for damages against your person for aiding Faruk Mudi & Co to defraud AFAN members. You are warned.”
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