SERAP wants civil society involvement in appointment of heads of anti-graft agencies

*Lamorde

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to “ensure the full participation of civil society in future appointment and dismissal of heads of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission, as a way of protecting and ensuring the independence of these agencies.”

The organization said that this “is entirely consistent with Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”

In a statement dated 28 November 2011 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said: “We welcome the appointment by President Jonathan of Mr Ibrahim Lamorde as Acting Chairman of the EFCC. This represents an important step towards revitalizing the waning fight against corruption in the country.”

“But this appointment in itself is not enough to address the endemic and institutionalized corrupt practices in the country. What is required is a comprehensive approach, and the necessary political will to stop grand corruption at the very top of government,” the organization added.

The organization also said that, “An important step of this reform is for the government to ensure that the nomination and appointment of heads of such important anticorruption bodies like the EFCC and ICPC take place in a transparent process, with full consultation and involvement of civil society, and, most crucially, of the Nigerian victims of corruption, to provide meaningful contributions or to engage in a fruitful dialogue on a matter of utmost importance to Nigeria.”

“For such participation to be meaningful, President Jonathan should among others, allow and encourage the submission of relevant information by Nigerian victims and by civil society; and ensure the publication of names of nominees to allow Nigerians to make comments on their suitability or otherwise to head anti-graft agencies,” the organization stated.

According to the group, “The government will have to show in words and in deed that it is fully committed to fighting corruption by also allowing the anticorruption bodies to function independently and without any interference whatsoever.

At the moment that is not the case. We urge the government of President Goodluck to move swiftly to strengthen national anticorruption laws including through the domestication and effective implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified.”

“The government must move swiftly to ensure that national anti-corruption institutions such as the EFCC are granted the necessary independence and human and material resources to enable them carry out their functions effectively and free of any undue influence,” the organization further added.

“Executive interference in the work of anticorruption agencies undermines the credibility of such agencies and shields corrupt officials from effective investigation or prosecution, thus violating the provisions of the Constitution and the UN Convention against Corruption,” the organization also added.

The organization also said that, “Beyond that, the government must address the consequences of corruption, especially on the economic and social rights of millions of Nigerians. The government should take genuine steps to recover all stolen national wealth and resources and to ensure the transparent spending of recovered funds.”

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