STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN, SENATE COMMITTEE ON ANTI-CORRUPTION AND FINANCIAL CRIMES, SENATOR CHUKWUKA UTAZI ON THE 2017 ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY, WHICH HELD ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2017
Every December 9 is observed as the International Anti-Corruption Day since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on 31st October, 2003. The theme for this year’s event is: United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security.
The International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for political leaders, governments, legal bodies and lobby groups to work together against corruption by creating improved awareness and promoting the day and the issues that surround it.
Corruption is a major governance challenge in Nigeria. The adverse effects of corruption to the socio-economic and political system of the country, and the attendant poverty and misery it imposes on the citizenry are depressing.
The United Nations has estimated that every year, about $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 percent of the global GDP. In developing countries like Nigeria, funds lost to corruption in forms of fraud, money laundering (including terrorist financing), bribery, criminal extortion, forgery, embezzlement, kickbacks, influence trading, tax evasion, public funds diversion, criminal multiple taxation, contract inflation and contract abandonment, contract splitting, over-invoicing, obtaining by false pretenses, gratification, criminal patronage, cronyism, favouritism, nepotism, to mention but a few are so massive that it is better imagined what would have been achieved if those funds were not stolen.
Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires that have entrenched bribery as a burden to the public service.
The 8th Senate recognizes the danger corruption poses to the development, peace and security of Nigeria. It has been steadfast in championing the anti-corruption drive of the Government. It incorporated anti-corruption in its agenda for service which it enacted at the early stages of the life of the Senate, and has passed resolutions which exposed corruption and inefficiency in public life.
It has passed critical bills that strengthen the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The bills include the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters bill, the Public Interest Disclosure and Witness Protection (Otherwise known as the Whistle Blowers) bill, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency bill. The Proceeds of Crime bill which incorporates Asset Management provisions has been concluded but its passage is awaiting some typographical editing that need to be clarified as observed during the third reading of the bill. The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) bill which was presented but, as some key stakeholders made serious observations about its provisions, the Senate requested the Executive to reconsider the bill in the light of those observations. That has been done and the bill is making expeditious progress. The new Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) bill that will improve on the 2013 Terrorism Law is on its journey to passage.
This year’s international anti-corruption day, with its emphasis on development, peace and security, which are serious issues that Nigeria faces today, is therefore one that resonates with Nigeria as a country. With consistency of purpose and emphasizing the unique experiences and lessons that Nigeria has had to contend with, we are gradually putting the legal, institutional and attitudinal structures that will reduce the incidences of corruption in Nigeria. If we all pull together in one direction, soon, corruption will have no place in Nigeria’s public life.