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THE ROLE OF LEGISLATURE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

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THE ROLE OF LEGISLATURE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

 

ABSTRACT

The objective of this study is twofold: to explore the legal framework for the fight against corruption in Nigeria, and to offer some reform measures for the reduction of corruption in the polity. It is hopeful that the public sector will become more efficient and effective if the recommendations delineated in this analysis are implemented. This is because with a number of empirical studies and theoretical policy debates linking corruption to a series of accountability failures, which lead to socio-economic cum political pathologies, especially, poverty and underdevelopment, transparency and accountability based on this prognosis, are prescribed as palliatives for political corruption, and developmental failures. Framed in the development context, the argument is that accountability is a path to empowerment in terms of both answerability, and enforceability of public duty-bearers to provide information and justification about their actions, and penalties for accountability defaulting, above all, a means of repairing the ‘leaky pipes’ of corruption and inefficiency. Hence channeling national resources more effectively towards result oriented development initiatives. In other words, anti-corruption war was made one of the foremost features of the “effective state”, and a movement for good governance, albeit the latter, not a democratic principle. Realizing that corruption is not, intrinsically a crime, until it is expressly prohibited and made punishable under the law, several anti-graft programmes which include preventive, and punitive measures have been implemented in fighting the scourge of corruption. The paper is structured into various sections. The introduction is closely followed by a literature review on the corruption, theoretical framework of analysis, the legal framework for anti-corruption and the need for government accountability. In order to accomplish the study purpose, the analysis uses an exploratory case method to give a historic synopsis of the Nigerian anti- corruption institutions. In sum, the paper concludes with some recommendations on how to increase accountability in the public sector.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Beginning from May 29, when he officially assumed duty as the nation’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari will be confronted by the challenge of how to tackle the menace of corruption. Perhaps his first litmus test will be how his government will fast track the trial of some politically exposed persons accused of embezzling public funds while in office. For Buhari, this assignment is self-imposed. The four times he has asked Nigerians to elect him as president, fighting corruption has been a major thurst of his campaign. He promised Nigerians that if voted into office, he would tackle corruption with vigour.

While delivering a speech at Chatham House, London, United Kingdom, in the heat of the campaigns in February, Buhari posited that recovered loot would be used to fund his party’s programmes on education, health, social infrastructure, youth employment and pensions for the elderly. Today, Nigerians and members of the international community alike are waiting on the president-elect with great expectations to translate his words into action by taming corruption and stabilizing the economy. Buhari cannot afford to disappoint on this promise, as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and those who doubted his ability to fulfill his promises in this regard are already reminding him of his words even when he is still weeks away from being sworn in as a substantive president.

But this is a season that some former and serving governors and other public officers linked with corruption may not wish to come. With bated breath, they are now waiting on Buhari to see how he would handle their cases, some of which have been in courts for some years. The general perception is that some, if not all, of these people have worked through their lawyers, mostly Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, to ensure that the cases against them go on almost indefinitely. Certainly, some of the suspects may have to pay direly for their acts if found guilty and if Buhari would match his words with action. Buhari’s resolve to deal with corruption is hinged on the wide belief that corruption and other related vices have hampered economic development in the country and also robbed it of its rightful place among the comity of nations. But even more disturbing is that most of the people alleged to have contributed in moving the country backward through corrupt practices are still active in government, and have constituted a clog in the wheel of efforts to fight corrupt.

Last February, the EFCC declared Nyako and Abdul-Aziz, his son, wanted for allegedly laundering N15 billion funds belonging to the state into the accounts of five companies allegedly owned by Abdul-Aziz. In a press release, EFCC alleged that the fund was funneled into the companies from the state accounts domiciled in one of the new generation banks by the account officer and bank manager who is also an in-law to the ex-governor. Nyako, according to the release, had, between 2007 and 2011, allegedly directed that all of the state-owned accounts domiciled in various banks be transferred to the new generation bank. It also maintained that one of the companies traced to the younger Nyako, owns, among other investments, an estate in Abuja while the ex-governor’s account officer also owns several properties and investments located around Abuja, Yola and Kano. Whereas Abdul-Aziz was arrested and questioned in February, the former governor, according to the EFCC, is yet to be seen.

The agency allegedly discovered massive looting, as a result of which it froze the account of the state government in a move to safeguard the state treasury. The EFCC alleged that Nyako’s government looted the state treasury through an illegal department called Special Programme and Project Units, SPPU, which engaged in over-invoicing and inflation of contracts. If Nyako was then on the run, as the EFCC alleges, Daniel, Lamido, Ohakim are very much around. Since he left office in 2011, the former Ogun State governor has been on EFCC’S most wanted list for allegedly squandering N211.3 million of state funds. He is facing trail on a 38-count charge of stealing was the governor.

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Corruption had become institutionalized under successive military regimes. The culture of ethical behaviour and accountability in government were not only glaringly assaulted but also grossly eroded. Therefore, the restoration of democracy and by implication the return of a representative assembly was seen as the appropriate medium required restoring accountability and efficiency in the utilization of public resources. This, in fact, is what the scrutiny of administration by the assembly seeks to achieve in a democratic regime. Apart from this, the law-making and representational powers of the legislature are further boost to a willing assembly to curb corruption.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria places enormous responsibility on the legislature as far as the control of public funds is concerned. Under it, there are constitutional, political and operational mechanisms specifically empowering the legislature to hold those saddled with the responsibility of executing laws made by it as well as expending resources appropriated by it accountable. The legislature is the main institutional anchorage provided for in the Constitution for the fight against corruption. It is also permitted by law to create other institutions and frameworks to assist it and the government in the discharge of that onerous duty. In fact, the legislature appeared sufficiently equipped under the Constitution to serve as effective check on the executive and its administrative agencies in all aspects of public administration. Yet, it appears that the legislature at all levels of government- federal, state and local – have been unable to adequately discharge the onerous duties devolved upon it by the Constitution in this regard. In the circumstances, the critical questions that come to mind is ‘where lies the fault?’.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

1.  To explore the role of legislature for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

2.  To offer some reform measures for the reduction of corruption in the polity.

It is hopeful that the public sector will become more efficient and effective if the recommendations delineated in this analysis are implemented..

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.  What is the role of legislature for the fight against corruption?

2.  What are the reforms measures for the reduction of corruption in the polity?

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The study will be useful to anti corruption agent, legislature and the Nigeria government at large. The study will aim at looking at how effective the legislature has been in the fight against corruption since Nigeria redemocratised in 1999. The study will serve as a check on the activities of the legislature arm of government in Nigeria.

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