The recent suggestion by the Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri that special courts be designated to hear cases of corrupt enrichment raised against public officers in Nigeria, provides another auspicious platform to critically appraise the anti-graft body, its operations, hopes and fears.
Ascending the saddle, following the exit of her controversial predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu, the new helms woman, has since her appointment, continued to lament the attitude of some Nigerian courts in dispensing with cases of graft, involving influential public figures.
While blaming the slow success of work of the commission on avoidable court injunctions, legal technicalities and time-consuming advocacies, Waziri suggested the establishment of special courts to help try EFCC related cases as one of the most potent steps towards fighting corruption in the land.
In fact, while, on a working visit to Lagos State, early this month, Waziri solicited the understanding and support of the Judiciary to dispensing justice speedily and checking corruption in Nigeria.
The Tide sympathises with the EFCC Boss, but whole-heartedly rejects the request for creation of special courts for the commission’s cases because what appears to be the major handicap of the anti-graft body is not the lack of the right kind of judges to interprete the laws but the impatience on the part of EFCC to carry out a thorough investigation and put up a water-tight prosecution.
Often times, suspects are scandalized on pages of newspapers before a legally admissible brief, in belief that the executive arm would help influence arrest and early detention of such citizens.
The commission under Nuhu Ribadu, no doubt, recorded modest gains and helped recover stolen public property, but the biggest criticism of that era was that such probes were perceived to be selective and ominously targeted at suspected political foes of then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
That scenario, indeed ignited calls for insulation of the EFCC from the control of the executive arm and be made independent in operations, investigations and prosecution of graft-related cases. Such independence, proper investigations and water-tight legal presentations in our view, are what the EFCC requires to prosecute the war against corruption, which has become an embarrassment to our national image.
In fact, corruption, like other societal vices, permeates various strata of the Nigerian society and has assumed the level of a cankerworm which has eaten so deep into the nation’s fabrics to the extent that successive administrations, military or civilian, have failed to devise ways and means of combating the menace.
That, without doubt, also forced the last civilian administration under Olusegun Obasanjo to establish the EFCC as a catalyst in the battle against corruption, especially, at the highest levels of governance .
However, since the inception of the anti-graft body, controversies have continued to trail its existence with some citizens advocating for more powers to the commission and others, its scrapping.
But whether for or against the EFCC, one thing, is certain: Nigerians need a re-orientation on the way we administer public funds.
We say so because the same sorry state of affairs has caused the categorisation of the country as one of the most corrupt nations on planet earth, hence, the inevitability of an anti-graft body an urgent imperative.
Even as that debate rages, some governmental agencies such as the Police, Customs, PHCN, politicians, Immigrations, among others, are still daily being derogatively ranked among the most corrupt in Nigeria. Thus, the only way out is to help strengthen an agency that is independent and capable of effectively policing the system and keeping in check, corrupt officers and their cohorts.
That expectation, The Tide believes, will remain a mirage, unless the EFCC undertakes a thorough self-search necessary to improve its operations, engage the best anti-criminal minds and fight internal corruption which often waters down good legal efforts.
But it must be said that the fight against corruption is not one that must be left for the EFCC alone, but one that must attract the support of all, the judiciary inclusive. It is only to that extent that The Tide views Waziri’s tour of Lagos State as a welcome development.
While that is on, we believe that the commission’s investigative machinery needs some surgical over-haul through vigorous training and retraining of its workforce to prepare them for the challenges we face as a nation.
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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