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Anti-corruption war: Buhari lists eight priorities, unfolds new strategies soon

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                                 Buhari Anti-corruption war
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday listed eight ways to give his anti-corruption agenda a big push in the next four years.

He also said the government will soon devise new strategies to win the war.

He will:
press for a crackdown on safe havens for corrupt assets;
Seek abolition of bank secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens on the continent and beyond; and
push for unconditional return of looted assets kept abroad.

Besides, uncontrolled electoral spending and voter inducement by politicians must be combated, Buhari said.

The President spoke at the National Democracy Day Anti-Corruption Summit in Abuja, which was organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The theme was “Curbing electoral spending: A panacea for public corruption”.

Buhari said it was regrettable that the Thabo Mbeki Panel on illicit financial flow, published a few years ago, claimed that Africa lost over $1 trillion to corruption over the last 50 years.

He said: “During the recently concluded election campaigns, I stated clearly that the major areas of priority during my second term in office as it was in my first term will be: security, economic improvement and fight against corruption. I remain committed to the fulfillment of these promises.

“Now, as this administration commences, we are taking stock of progress made so far in the war against corruption, assessing what needs to be done and devising new strategies to address existing challenges.

“I am pleased to inform you that this process has already started with the recent interaction between the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption and all anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.

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“The outcome of the interaction, among others, shall serve as the basis for a more concerted effort by this administration to:
strengthen the capacity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-corruption agencies by providing additional material, organisational and logistical support;
close existing legislative loopholes, facilitate collaboration with the judiciary, and strengthen the criminal justice system;
enforce effective asset declaration by public office holders and ensure sanctions by professional bodies against lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, and other individuals facilitating corrupt practices;
ensure comprehensive support and protection to whistleblowers, witnesses and victims of corruption;
adopt and formulate the policy of ‘naming and shaming’ all those who engage in corrupt practices while encouraging and honoring those who do not;
educate, mobilise and encourage Nigerians at the grassroots level to take ownership of the fight against corruption;
press for a crackdown on safe havens for corrupt assets, abolishing of bank secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens on the continent and beyond;
insist on the unconditional return of looted assets kept abroad and further strengthening of international cooperation through information and mutual legal assistance.

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Buhari urged Nigerians to join the fight against corruption to restore sanity to our system.

“We must henceforth see the anti-corruption fight not as an end in itself but as an instrument not only to fight poverty but a means to restore the right order of things.

“As we work to integrate these outlined measures and others into the anti-corruption drive with renewed vigour, we look forward to the active support and cooperation of all,” he added.

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The President also said it was time to de-commercialise Nigerian politics.

He said: “Regrettably, the recent political experiences have been characterised by the corrupting influence of money on party politics and electioneering processes.

“This unwholesome practice has dire consequences on our nation, in subverting the exercise of free choice by voters, elevated corrupt and unprincipled individuals to positions of leadership and entrenching the structures of democracy devoid of accountability.

“Electoral spending manifests in different forms and so should the approaches to curb it. That is the way to de-commercialise the political process so that true democracy can survive and thrive.

“Of course, we have sufficient legal framework in place in Nigeria to combat reckless electoral spending. The provision of Section 90 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended) explicitly puts a cap on the amount candidates for different political offices must expend on elections, failing which they are violating the law.

“Of greater significance is the provision of Section 88 of the Act, which prohibits a political party in Nigeria from ‘possessing any fund outside or retaining funds or other assets remitted to it from outside Nigeria’.

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“The philosophical underpinning of the above provisions and other related provisions of the Act is to prevent desperate politicians from buying their ways into political offices at the expense of low – spending law-abiding individuals.”

To Buhari, political corruption is merely an extension of the corruption in the wider society.

He said voter inducement by politicians must be combated.

He said: “In this connection, I urge all law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary in Nigeria, and across Africa, to tackle financial corruption in our political systems.

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“Uncontrolled electoral spending and voter inducement by politicians must be combated if we want to consolidate true democracy and good governance.

“ This Summit, therefore, has the potential of spurring us to action, starting with the discussions and exchange of ideas among participants.

“It is also my hope that the participation of Heads of African anti-corruption agencies in this Summit would enrich the discussion with valuable regional and continental perspectives.

“Let us remind ourselves of the Thabo Mbeki Panel on illicit financial flaws published a few years ago. Through corruption, Africa has lost over $1 trillion over the last 50 years, a figure surpassing all the combined development aid received by the continent during the same period.

“I want to remind us that political corruption is merely an extension of larger corruption in the wider society. Consequently, if we desire to curtail political corruption in public governance, then, corruption must also be fought in the wider society.

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