The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has commended the steps being taken by the House of Representatives, on four consolidated bills seeking to strengthen the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as the fight against corruption surges on.
This was revealed in a statement issued on Monday by the CACOL Media Coordinator, Mr Wale Salami.
Speaking on behalf of the centre, the CACOL Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran said: “It is indeed impressive to see to the House taking practical steps to disencumber the fight against corruption.
“We had always called for amendments to some of our laws which apparently are not restrictive enough to deter or debar people from engaging in corrupt practices.
“Some of these laws actually pamper corrupt tendencies and encumber the progress of the anti-corruption drive leading to corruption criminals wriggling through the labyrinths of the judicial and enforcement systems to evade justice willfully”.
The bills before the House are seeking to strengthen the EFCC in combating economic and financial crimes, shield the agency from undue interference by the Presidency and for its financial autonomy.
Part of what is expected to form the amendments, is that convicts of corruption crimes shall serve an imprisonment of a term not less than 20 years, as well as have their loots, accounts or investment forfeited to the government.
The Chairman further stated that: “At this period when the Senate has become a house of tragic comedy based on the pro-corruption character of the leadership and a large chunk of the membership of the Upper Chamber, it is indeed refreshing to see the House of Respresentatives (HOR) attempting to focus on matters worthy of attention.
“We call for expeditious actions towards the enactment of the bills into law.
“We add that President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that stolen funds so far recovered by the government are not looted back by the incurably corrupt elements that are clearly still lurking around in very powerful positions in the present government.”
CACOL had consistently called for life imprisonment for convicts that stole any amount above 1 billion Naira, and that such big thieves should be made to work diligently for their own upkeep while in prison via whatever skills they possessed previously or have been able to learn behind the bars.
“For us, 20 years maximum imprisonment is not enough, particularly for those corrupt elements who remained recalcitrant and impenitent during trials, those that consciously made the country to expend undue energy, resources and time before their conviction.
“They should be used as objects to educate the young, the youth and all, when they go on excursion to the prisons.
“Seeing former corrupt leaders in such situation will certainly serve to deter the potentially corrupt. And assets traced to such convicts should be deemed to be proceeds of corruption and confiscated by the Nigerian state”.
Although Mr Adeniran commended the war against corruption thus far, he added that recovered funds should not be stolen, rather they should be channelled back to the original projects or purposes for which they were meant.
“In cases where the original projects have been fixed, such funds should be put in Treasury Single Account (TSA) and used for other important needs of the nation.
“It would be a double tragedy if recovered funds or loots end-up getting re-looted. The processes involved in the recovery must be made transparent and accountable,” he stressed.