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Nigeria’s senate moves to amend anti–corruption laws

By Charles Kalu

The Nigerian senate says it has initiated a series of legislative amendments aimed at further giving a legal backing to the anti-corruption agenda of the current administration. The upper legislative arm says it believes that the legal framework of the anti-graft agencies must be fortified especially in a changing world.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Anti- Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent at his office at Abuja.

‘’As you can see times are changing and we must adjust our policies and laws to suit those changes. The Covid19 pandemic has brought this realization to the fore.”

Kwari said the senate was also watching allegations and counter allegations between the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. before making any public statement on the matter.

‘’As you can see, no one is above the law. However, everyone must be given a fair opportunity to defend himself or herself against allegations levelled against them,” Senator Kwari said, adding: “We are watching and will have our say on the whole process in the course of our oversight duties.’’

Kwari was part of the delegation that attended the Conference of States Parties (COSPS) in Abu Dhabi last year.

‘’The COSP is an offshoot of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). That is one of the most important international frameworks in the fight against corruption and financial crimes in the world today.

“While there, we also attended special side meetings of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, (GOPAC). Currently, the review processes are on-going as a lead up to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Corruption (UNGASS 2021).

‘’On the home front, we have identified special bills of interest that will enable Nigeria fulfil our international obligations as provided for in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

He listed the bills to include: the legal framework for the management of Civil and Criminal Forfeitures titled; Forfeiture Assets Management Authority, (FAMA), which will cover both proceeds of crime and other civil forfeitures that accrue to government; the Public Interest Disclosure Bill (Whistleblower); and the Witness Protection Bill, among others.

According to the senator, there are other considerations related to the EFCC, ICPC, and the CCB legislations that will ensure their independence, adequate funding as well as their openness to public scrutiny.
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017/2021, he added, is being driven by the office of the Attorney General.

“I am aware that we have passed the half way mark. We will be requesting an update on the implementation strategy to see if there are areas we can collaborate to ensure its success,” he said.

“The Legislative Anti-Corruption Strategy (LACS 2020/2021) will seek to give clearer direction in building a robust legal framework to support Mr. President’s anti-corruption agenda. It will categorise the entities in the war against graft into the three core areas of their mandates being Prevention, Enforcement, and Criminal Justice System (Prosecution), which is why we will be critically examining the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.’’

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