Asset Recovery Has Been Monumental Under Buhari’s Administration – Sagay

The Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, has described the recovery of assets by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as “ a major match forward”

He said this while evaluating the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

“The recovery of assets has been monumental during this government’s tenure” Professor Sagay declared. “It is unprecedented and whether Nigerians who have short memories like to acknowledge this or not, it is a fact.”

According to the senior advocate, part of the recovered loots are being used to fund the present budget for the social intervention programmes of the government.

He added that the looting of the nation’s resources allegedly by public servants has down considerably and is being reduced drastically.

Sagay who said, “the beginning of wisdom now is the avoidance of looting,” was worried that the progress recorded in the area of asset recovery is not being noticed.

Instead, he said Nigerians were waiting to see those convicted of corruption being jailed, noting that it was the narrow aspect and not the most important part of the anti-corruption war.

The PACAC chairman said, “We may be too impatient about conviction, the administration of the Criminal Justice Act which sealed a lot of loopholes which created these long endless cases only came in force in 2015.

“We are just going to start seeing the effect of the impact of the act in the coming months. So, I expect that there’d be more and more convictions.”

Professor Sagay further commented on the recent list of alleged looters published by the government, saying it was in accordance with a court order and that more names might be unveiled soon.

He was also confident that the judges handling corruption cases cannot be influenced by the views of other people since they have the knowledge to make their opinion on the facts of the case before them.

Clarke Advocates Effective System In Corruption War

A legal practitioner, Mr Robert Clarke, on Tuesday advocated for an effective system in the fight against corruption, which the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has embarked upon.

He, stressed the need for a free corruption system while prosecuting those perceived as being corrupt.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he stated, “No matter how you try corrupt officials, no matter how you try public officers, no matter how you try politicians, if the system is basically corrupt, it is wasted.”

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria is of the view that the released list of alleged looters by the Federal Government shows its commitment to flushing the nation of sharp practices.

Among prominent Nigerians that have questioned the list is the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, who described it as politically motivated.

“The first list of alleged looters released by the government is politically motivated and the second one is an afterthought that was done because Nigerians questioned the first list,” he said on Monday.

But Clarke feels that the indicted Nigerians whose names appeared on the list ought to have been invited for questioning over the respective roles they play in allegedly embezzling the nation’s resources.

He added, “None of them has been called to question or say something about this amount.”

“So whether you say alleged or not, they have been confronted. Some of them admitted those who could refund did and those who could not refund have been charged to court.”

 

NJC Panel Holds Secret Meeting With Judges Handling Corruption Cases

The Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee, set up by the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Walter Onnoghen, on Monday met with 11 judges handling corruption cases.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter said the meeting held at the Federal High Court complex in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.

The meeting was held behind closed-doors and journalists were barred from covering it.

Participants also declined to speak to the media after their deliberations.

According to our sources, the 16-member committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice, Suleiman Galadima, met with Jutices Mojishola Olatoregun-Ishola, Oluremi Oguntoyibo, Muslim Hassan, Ibrahim Buhari, R. M. Anka, Hadiza Shangri, A. O Faji, R. M. Aikawa, Chuka Obiozor, M. B. Idris and Babs Kuewumi.

At the meeting, insiders said, ongoing corruption cases at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court were reviewed and the judges were encouraged to expedite hearings on the cases.

They were also reminded to adhere to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJC) 2015 in their handling of the cases, one source said.

The ACJA especially provides for speedy hearing of criminal cases, including the ones involving corruption and financial crimes.

“The committee also requested the judges to articulate the challenges they are facing in their jobs so it can be forwarded to the CJN,” one of our sources said.

“But they were also advised to remain upright and professional in ways that will restore credibility to the judiciary.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the NJC, Soji Oye, confirmed the meeting held but declined to provide details of the proceedings.

The committee, established by the NJC in September, 2017 was created to access the progress of corruption cases pending in Nigerian courts, with a view to ensure speedy adjudication of the cases.

It is vested with the responsibility of ensuring the adoption of a practice direction that complies with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) by judges and legal practitioners handling corruption cases across the country, among other things.

According to the NJC; “The Committee’s primary functions include; Regular monitoring and evaluation of proceedings at designated courts for financial and economic crimes nationwide; Advising the Chief Justice of Nigeria on how to eliminate delay in the trial of alleged corruption cases; Giving feedback to the Council on progress of cases in the designated courts, conduct background checks on judges selected for the designated courts; and Evaluating the performance of the designated courts.”

Nigeria’s Intriguing Corruption, By Dele Agekameh

Before the age of computers, the internet and all forms of modern media generally, oral story telling was a big part of cultural integration processes, especially in Africa. Great story tellers existed and their traditional tales thrilled children and adults alike, with the many twists and turns crowned by the inevitable moral lessons inherent in them. Fables were especially popular, and the tortoise was at the centre of many funny tales. It now seems like a wave of nostalgia about those times has come upon the corrupt elements in our society.

Like many incredulous stories that have come out of Nigeria in recent times, the rave in the past few weeks has been about a few cases of missing beans, which is not in itself strange news to Nigerians. This time though, there has been an unexpected twist to the tales of corruption – animals. Like scripts from some of the many fables we used to be so entertained by, we have heard of how mysterious snakes and monkeys made off with staggering sums of money. The story tellers, of course, are civil servants and government officials who were confronted with questions to which they could not give any satisfactory answer.

In the first case, a sales clerk at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) office in Makurdi, Benue State, produced an unbelievable account of how a mysterious snake made repeated trips into a vault that held JAMB’s money and swallowed a combined sum of at least N36 million. The clerk accused her house maid and other staff at the office of being accomplices or puppeteers of the mystery snake. The incredible storytelling was caught on tape, despite the fact that the story teller denied making the statement in an interview with CNN.

Without going into details of how a domestic help at the home of a JAMB sales clerk got caught up in the case of missing beans, one wonders why the clerk thought it wise to relay the tale to her superiors, truth or not. If the clerk believed the story to be true, why had she never raised alarm before the JAMB audit uncovered the deficit? Furthermore, there has been no word from the alleged maid or other implicated people, or the snake for that matter. Yet, the news spread like wildfire, intriguing the eventual victims of this very real theft – the Nigerian people.

In the next case, which is even more embarrassing than the implausible snake story, the now former head of the Northern Senators Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu has been implicated in the disappearance of the sum of N70 million. Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna State spoke on the floor of the Senate after the letter of removal of Senator Adamu as leader of the forum was read at the Senate. He commented that there had been rumours that some monkeys raided the farm of Senator Adamu and carted away the millions. It was not readily clear whether the comment was serious or jocular, but the very fact that it wasn’t clear says a lot about where we are as a country today.

A country where looting becomes funny because some ridiculous tale has been told to cover it up, is not ready for real change. Soon after the snake and monkey episodes, other ridiculous stories have made the rounds, all supposedly in good humour.

 

Beyond the intrigues of this incredible storytelling, there are real issues of concern in these matters. First is the cash culture that is still prevalent in the country despite the supposed cashless policy of the government. In the JAMB case, at least, one is thankful that Ishaq Oloyede, the new registrar, has been able to phase out the cash transactions that enabled clerks in Benue to gulp down a whooping N36 million with no credible explanation. This is why the joke or no joke about N70 million and monkeys involving senators is a shame.

Government officials are amongst the most frequent handlers of large sums of cash, some of it coming straight from the Central Bank, as recent corruption cases have shown. With the knowledge that cash transactions increase the potential for corruption and minimises the accountability window in official transactions, one would expect that government offices and officials would be the pilot grounds for the implementation of the cashless policy. All evidence points to the contrary.

 

Another quite disturbing issue is the reception of the incredible tales by Nigerians. It appears that the weight of corruption has worn down the minds of Nigerians into a dispassionate state where we are majorly interested in the intrigues of corruption cases, while losing sight of the real issues. In this case, one can describe the reaction of Nigerians as that of fascination, rather than something like righteous indignation, in the least. Maybe the case of the clerk presented a scenario most could relate to as opposed to a governor making up the same story.

In any case, Senator Shehu Sani displayed this fascination the most while attempting to masquerade his delight with sarcasm. Before his likely-made-up statement about monkeys, which only served to disgrace the country further, the senator had been the one that visited the JAMB headquarters in Abuja with snake charmers to further make light jokes about a serious matter of embezzlement, while on the clock for his constituency of Kaduna Central. The man was simply so enthralled in the admittedly comic dimension of the whole affair that he lost touch of the real issue. Many Nigerians unfortunately mirror this reaction.

A country where looting becomes funny because some ridiculous tale has been told to cover it up, is not ready for real change. Soon after the snake and monkey episodes, other ridiculous stories have made the rounds, all supposedly in good humour. The fact that many other JAMB offices around the country had cases of missing sums that could not be accounted for became suppressed under the comic weight of the snake and monkey, and of course with assistance from a senator of the Federal Republic.

The world is always watching, and no matter the statistics, figures and charts we put out there, a foreigner wants to feel like they are in a civilised country when they visit, instead they pick up the morning papers and are greeted by these ridiculous tales.

 

Another disturbing aspect of the matter is the quarter of the population that actually believes the story. In a vastly religious country where older voodoo customs are still practiced by many, one cannot be too surprised that the clerk’s story of the snake sounds plausible to a section of the population. One can bet also that those who believe this will hold other ideas on how to move forward in the case now. There are many mysteries in the world, but civilised society cannot be run on logic-defying beliefs and notions.

The fables now being told by suspected looters and irresponsible lawmakers may rival the best stories we heard in old times, but there is no moral to these tales of corruption. The only lesson we learn is that we are not winning the war of greater accountability. Whether the clerk believed the tale she presented or not, the truth is that the mind-set of the custodians of the common purse at any point in time may be a barrier to accountability in official practices. If one were to believe the clerk, for instance, it is altogether possible that she was busy fasting and praying or visiting witch doctors of her own when she should have been reporting lost money.

It is indeed shameful also that these tales are getting international attention. That CNN interviewing the clerk is a deeply embarrassing episode for the country. Whichever way one looks at it, it casts us all in a terribly bad light, just as the appointment of dead men into government boards and other sorry tales that have emerged from the country in recent times. The comedy must appear to never stop for observers in other countries, particularly neighbouring African countries who are in the same race for greater development as we are.

The world is always watching, and no matter the statistics, figures and charts we put out there, a foreigner wants to feel like they are in a civilised country when they visit, instead they pick up the morning papers and are greeted by these ridiculous tales. It is all at once sad and uninspiring that these are the kinds of matters that are generating the most attention in an election season. Too bad!

Anti-Corruption War Must Be Fought Like Jihad – Magu

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has urged Nigerians to support the current administration in the fight against corruption and engage in the fight like a jihad in order to free Nigeria from the grip of the corrupt persons.

Magu said this on Sunday in a lecture he delivered at the 7th convocation and 10th anniversary of the Fountain University, Osogbo in Osun State.

Speaking at the convocation of the university established by NASFAT, the EFCC boss, whose lecture was delivered by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, said just 55 persons stole N1.3tn between 2006 and 2013.

This amount, Magu said, could fund massive infrastructural development in many sectors and could train almost 4,000 children from primary school to university with a budget of N25m for each of them.

Magu said it was disheartening that these few corrupt persons had turned round to wage war against the commission and the administration using various means including the same people they had impoverished.

The EFCC boss said Nigerians should not leave the anti-corruption war to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osunbajo and the commission alone, saying every Nigerian must support the anti-graft war with the aim of winning it.

He said, “This was why I said we owe it to ourselves, it is a jihad for all of us to wage the war against corruption. It is unpatriotic and a shirking of our responsibilities as citizens to fold our arms and leave the fight against corruption to President (Muhammadu) Buhari, Vice-President (Yemi) Osinbajo, the EFCC and a handful of others. We are all stakeholders in the fight against economic and financial crimes; together we can defeat this evil.

“Indeed, corruption could have killed Nigeria if the rate at which corruption was festering then had not been checked. Take for instance, the money stolen by just 55 people between 2006 and 2013 is well over N1.3tn. One third of this money, using the World Bank rates and cost could have comfortably been used to construct 635.15 km of roads; built 183 schools; educate 3,974 children from primary to tertiary education levels at N25.24m per child; built 20, 062 units of 2-bedroomed houses across the country and do even more.

“The cost of this grand theft therefore is that, these roads, schools and houses will never be built and these children will never have access to quality education because a few rapacious individuals had cornered for themselves what would have helped secure the lives of future generations, depriving them of quality education and healthcare, among others.

“But the corrupt, using sponsored people, claim that they are being prosecuted because of the region they came from, the religion they profess, or their ethnic identity. They do their utmost not to answer the all-important question of whether or not they are guilty of the corruption allegations against them.”

Magu stated that the EFCC had recovered N738bn in about two years due to the support of the President and the commitment of the agency to stop corrupt officials from further plunging the nation into underdevelopment.

He said the EFCC was oblivious of the ethnic background or religious belief of corrupt persons when they were being investigated, saying those playing up the ethnic cards were doing so to whip up sentiments in order to go scot-free with their loots.

He, however, said that the EFCC would not relent in its efforts to stop corruption in the country despite the series of brutal attacks launched by the corrupt persons against him and the commission.

But the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, while addressing the gathering, said it would be extremely difficult to tame corruption as long as the nation depended on “unearned fund” from crude oil.

The governor said corruption was not really the main problem of the nation but laziness, stressing that Nigerians would be very vigilant and would stop corrupt persons from stealing their money if the people worked hard to generate fund for the government.

He said so many people did not know the process of extracting crude oil but they depended on proceeds from its sale.

He added that Lagos State with an average internally generated revenue of N41.7bn per month, was the only state that had weaned itself from the dependency on oil money.

Argbesola said, “Is corruption really our main problem? We are largely lazy. To tame corruption in a rent-seeking economy will be very difficult. I am not in anyway antagonising Magu but what I am saying is that a society that depends on rent can hardly eliminate corruption.”

He advised Nigerian youths to use the insult hurled at Nigeria by the United States President, Donald Trump, to spur them into serious work, critical thinking and innovation in order to create jobs and make the country a better place to live in.

Source: PUNCH

EU To Spend N10bn To Fight Corruption In Nigeria

The European Union on Tuesday said it would spend €23.3m (N9.9bn) on a four-year programme that would focus on tackling corruption in Nigeria.

The EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Kurt Cornelis, said this in Abuja during the inauguration of the four-year Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme in Nigeria.

He said, “The European Union is providing €23.3m for the initiative, to be implemented at the federal level and in four states of Adamawa, Anambra, Kano and Lagos. Corruption and an ineffective justice system undermine Nigeria’s effort at economic and social development and fighting poverty.”

Cornelis, who disclosed that the British Council office in Nigeria would implement the programme, said the EU had affirmed its commitment to supporting Nigeria to improve the justice sector and strengthen the fight against corruption through the financing of the programme tagged, RoLAC.

The envoy added, “Criminal justice reform and the fight against corruption are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Corruption is both a cause and driver of poor governance and performance of the criminal justice system.

“At the same time, a strong Nigerian criminal justice sector, able to dispense timely and effective justice would strengthen the fight against corruption, as incentives to engage incorrupt practices are reduced.

“The overall objective is to enhance good governance in Nigeria by contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law and curbing corruption. More specifically, it will target and support: The implementation of the Nigerian criminal justice reform agenda to improve on the timeliness, effectiveness and transparency of the system.”

Other areas the programme will focus on include: Increasing access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities strengthening the fight against corruption in the criminal justice sector, public procurement and the extractive industries, enhance citizens’ civic and public engagement in criminal justice sector reforms and the fight against corruption

According to RoLAC Programme Director, Dr. Bob Arnot, at the British Council, the approach is not to bring predetermined solutions but to work in collaboration with Nigerian state and non-state actors to develop and implement sustainable initiatives that will build upon and consolidate the successes of the EU’s previous support to Nigeria in the justice and anti-corruption sector under the 10th EDF.

Endorsement By Governors, Top Politicians For Buhari Second Term Are Self Driven – Shehu Sani

By Toba Adedeji
The Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani has said that the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for second term by some governors and top politicians are borne out of selfishness and not patriotism.
The Senator made this known while speaking at the second annual lecture of Rave FM, a private radio station in Osogbo, Osun State.
He maintained that , “None of the APC governors, top chieftains of the party moved for the endorsement of Buhari when he was on medical vacation abroad.
” Their calls were part of agenda to seek second term in office or seek for premeditated cover after vacating their positions of power.
“The endorsement for President Muhammadu Buhari to vie for second term in office were driven by selfish ambitions and not borne out of genuine love and sincerity.
Sani posited that, “The ruling party must know that what destroyed the Peoples Democratic Party was a force from inside and not from outside. Citing Yugoslavia in the old Soviet Union as a relevant example.
“In the ruling party things are not moving fine. What the elite in the ruling class are saying publicly are different from what they are saying privately. Publicly they take flag of endorsement of president second term. The first term serving governor is endorsing president for his second term ticket while the second term serving governor is for him to be protected after office”
“How do you endorse someone who hasn’t expressed interest. This is what can be condemn in politics of PDP.
He argued that, “Lack of internal democracy, imposition detroyed the PDP. The umbrella of the PDP was torn by the internal injustice. The ruling party should be careful. Many people who helped in bringing this administration on board are not being carried along. Now Atiku has left the APC for the PDP. Those that contributed to this government before getting to power were not accorded courtesy”. It is left for Buhari to decide who loves him and who loves the throne.”
He noted that, “For Buhari to be rescued from the claws of cabal, he needs the concerted efforts from all Nigerian regardless of religion, tribe and political parties.
The Senator, who spoke on the topic “Nigeria’s Fight Against Corruption: The Facts, the Fallacies and the Antidote”, contended that, “This government has moved us away from the culture of corruption that was of the past administration but we are not there yet, where we ought to be.”
Their are two political party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Party and People’s Democratic Party, we don’t have a strong opposition in this country because of the moral burden, they carry don’t have a clean hands”.
Also the former president of Nigeria Bar Association, Wole Olanipekun, SAN in interview with journalists after the occasion suggested that government should build institutions economically, as it is he only way to reduce corruption drastically.
According to him, “Let us build institutions economically. Once institutions are built corruption will substantially exercised. We can’t fight corruption when every thing in this country is so centralized. We can’t fight corruption in a system of autocracy because when we look constitution all powers are built around Federal Government. We can’t fight corruption successful in system whereby we have everything in the exclusive legislative list and not on concurrent.
We can’t fight corruption when Federal government is  over weigh and  not ready to share responsibilities. Let us build institutions.

Judge Withdraws From Trial Of Justice Nganjiwa

A Lagos State High Court judge has withdrawn from the trial of a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, following allegations of bias.

Trial Judge, Justice Adedayo Akintoye, today (Wednesday) held that in the interest of justice, she had transferred the case file back to the Administrative Judge of Lagos so it could be re-assigned to another judge.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arraigned Justice Nganjiwa before Justice Akintoye for alleged unlawful enrichment to the tune of $260,000 and N8,650,000 on June 23, 2017.

The commission said the sums did not correspond with the judge’s salary. They also claimed that the judge could not explain the source of the funds.

Justice Nganjiwa, who is attached to the Bayelsa Division of the Federal High Court, was, therefore, arraigned on 14 counts before Justice Akintoye.

The defendant and his lawyer were not present at today’s proceedings but at the last sitting of the court on Nov 13, Mr Robert Clarke, counsel to Justice Nganjiwa told the court that he had written a letter dated November 10, 2017, to the Administrative Judge of the Lagos High Court seeking a transfer of the matter to another judge.

He said he had also filed an application objecting to the trial of his client before the trial judge, Justice Akintoye, and accused the trial judge of bias in favour of the Prosecution.

In the letter which was sighted by newsmen, Mr Clarke said, “The trial judge is presiding over the criminal trial of a Snr Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ricky Tarfa and the counts and facts of the charge against his client, Justice Nganjiwa, are substantially similar to the counts & facts of the charges against the Snr advocate.”

The EFCC had mentioned Mr Ricky Tarfa as one of the lawyers who allegedly bribed Justice Nganjiwa for the purpose of obtaining a favourable outcome in his cases.

In the letter, Justice Nganjiwa asked Justice Akintoye to return his case file to the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Opeyemi Oke for the purposes of re-assignment to another judge.

In the alternative, he wants an order dismissing the charge on the ground that it constitutes “double jeopardy “especially as the case of Ricky Tarfa, which he referred to as ‘a sister case’ before the same court, contains virtually all the allegations and particulars in this new case”.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr Wahab Shittu, had described the allegations of bias as an attempt to frustrate the trial.

He said the claims were contentious and should not be entertained by the court.

He also reminded the court of past attempts by the defence team to stall trial and concluded that the allegations of bias are speculative.

Mr Shittu had also argued that there was no way the matter involving Mr Ricky Tarfa can influence Justice Nganjiwa’s matter before the court.

He urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that Justice Nganjiwa is not on a joint trial with Mr Tarfa in the other case neither is he a witness in the matter.

But Justice Akintoye today decided to hands off the matter. She urged the parties to find out from the court registrar the new judge to whom the case has been re-assigned.