The Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has perfected plans to move beyond what it achieved in the past year. The commission has intensified efforts to ensure that the scourge of corruption is reduced to the barest minimum. The Acting Chairman of the Commission, Barrister Ekpo Nta issued a statement recently in which he noted that the recent fuel subsidy protests, government’s explanations, National Assembly’s public hearings/interventions has thrown up an agreement by government, organized labour, civil societies, women, students and youth groups , and indeed street urchins, that corruption poses “…. a serious threat to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law” as opined by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNAC).
The ICPC commended the Nigerian print, radio and television media for providing the platform for the current unprecedented and sustained national discourse on the issue of corruption these past weeks. ICPC is indeed very delighted and sincerely hopes that the gains from all these discourses will sustain an emerging beneficial partnership between government, labour, Civil Societies and citizens and anti-corruption agencies to stem or eradicate corrupt activities. To this end, we have proposed in our 2012 budget the novel idea of instituting and funding toll-free calls to assist concerned citizens report infractions of the ICPC Act in reliance of Section 6(f) of our Act mandating us to “enlist and foster public support in combating corruption”
The commission also listed other changes it will be effecting in the course of the year, they include: In addition, the ICPC, under the present management, is carrying out operational changes and strategies to ensure that:
• breaches of the ICPC Act emanating from past and ongoing investigations in the National Assembly will be addressed because the Commission has been, and is still, monitoring all proceedings since last year.
• the collaboration with local, regional and international sister agencies is vigorously sustained or initiated since there is a correlation between corruption and crime, particularly organised crime, and the involvement of few public officials.
• our proactive monitoring systems are strengthened and expanded to aid good public sector governance at the Local, State, Federal and other related institutional levels.
• more system reviews at the micro and macro levels of public governance are carried out to enhance operational efficiency, reduce wastage and block corruption-prone processes;
• we encourage the formation of more volunteer groups, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels of education to join the anti-corruption war;
• more arrests will be effected and prosecuted for graft especially in endemic areas that are resilient to changes.
Barrister Nta noted that national and international democratic institutions, economies and the rule of law have been subverted by persons having access to corruptly amassed wealth through plundering of public funds. He however pointed out that ICPC is very confident that the current national focus on corruption will enable the Nation fund, adequately, its anti-corruption agencies. For example, he disclosed that ICPC has offices in only fourteen States and therefore needs to provide offices in the remaining twenty-two States and all Local Government headquarters in the country. This will help the commission render assistance in monitoring and evaluation activities instead of waiting for offences to be committed before spending more funds on investigation. ICPC will step up the re-engineering our corruption-prone faulty or non-existent public service systems to allow the innate goodness of Nigerians come to the fore again.
He also described corruption as a trans-border virus which staff must be trained to combat in accordance with the best practices in national and international standards. Appropriate equipment and technologies must be deployed in the sector to match rapid technological changes. More importantly, ICPC would explore the possibility of training Certified Private Investigators in Nigeria in its Academy to complement investigators in the police and other law enforcement agencies.
The Acting Chairman also expressed the Commission’s confidence that with the support of the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, Press, Civil Societies and the Nigerian people, its agencies can successfully fight graft and also defend the dividends of good governance for the common good of our people, and restore our international standing