A call has gone to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to task the new Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice Lawyer ‘Lateef Fagbemi, SAN on evolving stiffer penalty for corruption and economic crimes in-order to fight the crimes holistically.
A Non-Governmental Organization – the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria made this call today while reacting to the arrival back to the Country of the President from India and United Arab Emirate as part of his investment drives for Nigeria.
In a Press Statement signed by the National Coordinator of Group Alh. Abdullahi Ibrahim, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria said the down-ward trend of the Nation’s Economy is due to corruption and serious economic crimes that have the backings of the laws including Nigeria’s Constitution pointing out that unless there are law reviews, the crimes of corruption and economic crimes cannot be reduced in Nigeria.
The therefore called for stringent laws and constitution amendments for the ordinary citizens to be assured of good governance otherwise, governance would remain beneficial only to the political office holders, while ordinary citizens who should benefit would continue to suffer.
Some of the area listed by the Group for amendment in our laws include bench-marking the amount that could attract bail in financial crimes in the Country, pointing-out that any amount above N50 Million to be accounted for by suspects should not be bailable.
The Group maintained that through Plea Bargaining which is part of our laws, several accused persons have been set free after payment of certain percentage of the looted funds – adding that such laws encourage corruption in the Nigeria Society.
MMWG stated that if Plea Bargaining and bails for economic crimes works in American and Britain, it is not working for Nigeria and should be discarded if Nigeria is serious about fighting corruption pointing-out that the last administration must have made a serious mistake by granting some Former Governors convicted of economic crimes political pardon without finishing their jail terms in two various prisons in Nigeria.
Nigeria should not just be ‘copy-cats’ on legal system as British and Americans are different from Nigerians, the Group stated.
It maintained that as long as all economic crimes are bailable and Plea Bargaining are retained in our laws, fighting corruption and economic crimes would remain a difficult task and the Nation’s Economy would remain bad no matter the effort put into fighting corruption and other financial crimes.
Still on corruption, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria believes that some provisions in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as ammended promotes corruption. Examples it said is Section 124 Sub-Section 5 which provides for pension or gratuity for Governors and Deputy Governors who served for only 8 years, while public servants that served for 35 years could not access their benefits for 10 to 20 years, stating that there is a glaring difference between political appointments and public service appointment; adding that politicians attempt to confuse the two just for personal interests which must be outlawed.
It advocated for removal of such provision in our Constitution and abolition of severance packages totally as part of good governance; as governance should not be mainly to acquire wealth but to serve the people; and while serving, public Functionaries have been well paid, the Group said.
On democracy, MMWG called for abolition of States Independent Electoral Commission (SIECs) across the Country, as it said its independence has been eroded by the influence of State Governors in determination of the results of the elections conducted by them. Consequently the Group stated, all States in Nigeria had been ‘winning’ all Local Givernments Elections in their States for their Political Parties – the basis upon which Governors becomes ‘Alfa and Omega’ in all 774 LGs in Nigeria.
Democracy has been eroded in Nigeria with elections conducted by SIECs and consequently, the LGs that are closer to the people have collapsed the result of which we are now witnessing including Local Government Financial Authonomy passed into law and signed which has not been allowed to work…the MMWG concluded