Shun Undue Publicity, Senate tasks Anti-Corruption Agencies

The Senate has called on anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria to shun undue publicity in the discharge of duties imposed on them— to identify and prosecute cases of corruption.

The red chamber tasked anti-graft bodies on professionalism in their duties, stressing that undue publicity could compromise the strength of evidence presented to secure conviction in judicial proceedings.

The call followed a Point of Order by Senator Chukwuka Utazi during plenary session on Wednesday.

The Senate then congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari, who was honoured by African Union as the African Champion on Anti-corruption.

Presenting the point of order, Utazi said: “The essence of raising this order is to reiterate total support and partnership of the National Assembly to the fight against corruption”.

He said: “As we mark this day, may Africa win the fight against corruption so that we can continue on the path of wholesome transformation of the continent.

“We may recall that the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption was adopted on July 11, 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.

“Consequently, the Executive Council of the AU designated July 11 of every year as African Day Against Corruption much like the UN dedicated Dec. 9 of every year as International Anti-Corruption Day.

“It estimated that every year, about 1 trillion dollars is paid in bribes while an estimated 2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption, which is an equivalent of more than five per cent of the global GDP.”

The lawmaker expressed concern that funds traced to corruption in Africa were in the form of fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery, extortion, forgery and embezzlement.

He added that other forms of corruption were kick backs, tax evasion, public funds diversion, criminal multiple taxation, contract inflation and abandonment, obtaining by false pretext, gratification and criminal patronage.

He said: “In recognition of the worrisome nature of corruption in Africa as a major hindrance to development and stability on the continent, the Assembly of AU in 2017 declared 2018 as African Anti-Corruption year with the theme “Winning the Fight Against Corruption, a Sustainable Path to African transformation.

“The ultimate objective is to have an Africa that is corrupt free, Nigeria that is corrupt free, citizen driven and democratically governed.

“Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria and the poverty and misery it imposes on the citizenry are depressing.

“Africa is at a critical point to take its rightful place in the comity of nations.”

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, reiterated the need for all Nigerians to join forces to fight corruption.

Ekweremadu said: “We thank Senator Utazi for bringing this up and for the work himself and his committee are doing to ensure that the fight against corruption remains focused.

“I believe that all of us and every responsible citizen of Africa will continue to support the government of the respective countries to ensure that they have legislations and processes to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.”

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