Citizens, civil society leaders and other stakeholders have raised serious concerns about the escalating series of kidnappings, killings and insecurity across the country.
According to them, these are clearly fueled by “years of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators,” adding that “only ambitious and robust anti-corruption fight can end the insecurity in the country.”
This was disclosed at a town-hall meeting organized by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with UKaid, on Wednesday in Abuja.
In his paper titled, Practical Strategies to Mobilise Citizens to Participate in the Fight against Corruption, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) said: “Corruption is the greatest obstacle to security, development and equality in the Nigerian society. Corruption affects all aspects of human endeavour and permeates all strata of the Nigerian society, starting from the government down to the average citizen.
“This threatens the existence of the country as one entity by weakening institutions, rendering obsolete the rule of law, undermining good governance and impoverishing the citizenry through a diminishing economy.
“The most visible impact of corruption in the Nigerian society today can be viewed through the lens of the myriad of security challenges the country has to face, which extends from the activities of bandits on almost all major road networks to insurgency in the North.
“Despite millions allocated to the defence sector, the average Nigerian can hardly travel inter-state without fear for one’s safety.
“One wonders what the various governors do with the security votes allocated to them every month. The fact that security votes are generally not accounted for should be no excuse to divert such funds for purposes unrelated to security.”
Also Speaking, Hassan Hafiz Mohammed, who represented the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, stated that the “official oath of secrecy cannot and should never be used as a pretext by public officials not to disclose information on corruption matters within their ministries, departments and agencies.”
According to Mr Saminu Amadin, representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the fight against corruption cannot be left for government alone, as the citizens have a critical role to play in preventing and combating corruption in Nigeria.
On her part, the representative of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Mrs Hassan Ahmed stated: “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act should be fully implemented by all the states, as it will help to fight corruption including in the judiciary and help to address the chronic delay in judicial processes.”
Speaking, SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, added that good governance, respect for human rights and total commitment to obey court orders, are critically important to the stability and growth of Nigeria.
He further added that Federal and state governments should focus their attention on the human rights dimension of insecurity in the country, as an honest government is a basic right of all citizens.
According to him, “Citizens bring a missing component to the anti-corruption struggle. They bring extra-institutional pressure to push for change when power holders are corrupt and are unaccountable, and when institutional channels are blocked or ineffective.
“Nigerians should therefore exert their collective power to get involved in the fight against corruption including cases of corruption that directly affect them.
“While corruption brings out the worst in people, fighting corruption can bring out the best. Citizens don’t fight corruption in the abstract. They do so to overcome poor and unaccountable governance, poverty, displacement, organized crime and other forms of oppression and injustice.
“SERAP encourages people to speak up against corruption at all levels of government; federal, state and local government, as well as against corruption involving the private sector, and the impunity that has allowed corruption to flourish.
“Grand and petty corruption directly affect all of us as citizens, especially the socially and economically vulnerable among us.“