Nigeria at 60: SERAP, others urge strengthening of anti-corruption institutions

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A protestor sports a an anti-corruption T-shirt on January 9, 2012 in Lagos during a demonstration against the more than doubling of petrol prices after government abolished fuel subsidies. Thousands of people heeded the unions' call to stage protest rallies across Africa's most populous country. Police shot dead a protester in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos on January 9 during a national strike over fuel prices. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

By Chinyere Omeire/Moji Eniola

Lagos, Oct. 1, 2020 As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says improving governance and social cohesion will require strengthening of institutions established to fight corruption.

Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive Director of SERAP, made the assertion in an interview with journalists in Lagos on Thursday.

He said that the country’s anti-corruption war had yet to be impressive.

“The court system must be strengthened, laws must be strengthened; other institutions such as the police, established to enforce laws, must also be strengthened.

“A reward and punishment system must be operated effectively. When anybody commits an infraction, he should be made accountable according to the law. There should be no attempts to favour anybody.

“Individuals, who do deeds that are toward integrity, honesty and accountability in a manner that has never been done before, should be rewarded and recognised either through awards or cash tokens.

“When such a wholesome system is created, corruption can be fought effectively,” he said.

Mumuni advised that national resources must be applied in the interest of the Nigerian people.

“The people must benefit from their resources so that it will be in their consciousness that the government is working for their best interest,” he said.

He called for intensified efforts to effectively tackle corruption.

Also, some Lagos-based lawyers said that the anti-corruption war had not yielded much of the desired results.

They blamed the situation on corruption even among some of those who are supposed to fight corruption.

Mr Chibuikem Opara, Head of Dispute Resolution Practice at Okonmah and Co. Chambers, Ikeja, said that President Muhammadu Buhari should do more to fulfill his election campaign of eradicating corruption.

He noted that one of the factors that facilitated the president’s election was his vow to eradicate corruption.

According to Opara, Nigeria’s position in the global corruption index does not show progress in the country’s fight against corruption.

“It is not a hidden fact that there are some corrupt officials working in the government.

“For the administration to achieve meaningful progress, it needs to purge itself of corrupt officials because a building starts from the foundation,” Opara said.

He also urged the government to embrace fairness while carrying out governance in every component of the country.

“Social cohesion is achieved when an administration embraces fairness and treats everyone and every component equally.

Mr Yemi Omodele, the Principal Partner of Yemi Omodele Chambers, Ikeja, noted thatt the problem of governance and administration in Nigeria did not start with Buhari’s regime.

He said that corruption was in the country during the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial times.

According to him, the Muhammadu Buhari administration is trying in fighting corruption but has not done much as Nigerians expected.

Mr Adenrele Adegborioye, Senior Partner at BA Law Chambers, Lagos, said that the government should make more efforts in the fight against corruption.

“In fighting corruption, there ought not to be any sacred cow,” Adegborioye said.

According to him, no citizen no matter highly placed or connected should engage in corruption without being apprehended and prosecuted.

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