•Graft behind economic problem – AGF
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A coalition of 50 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have threatened to mobilise thousands of Nigerians to shut down the judiciary should the Federal High Court and Supreme Court justices arrested for alleged corruption, fail to step aside. They also frowned a the alleged complicity of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
This is even as the Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Abubakar Mallami (SAN), said corruption was behind Nigeria’s economic problem. He spoke in Kaduna yesterday
Speaking at a Press conference held in Abuja, the Chairman of the Forum of the NGOs in Nigeria (FONGON), Wole Badmus, warned that they would embark on peaceful demonstration in support of the battle to rid the judiciary of bad eggs.
The forum urged the Federal Government to institute disciplinary actions against security agents colluding with some governors to frustrate the administration’s war against corruption.
“We are hereby calling on the serving judges/justices among those who were arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) to immediately step down since the NJC is not willing to suspend them. Even though the arrested judges/justices have not been declared guilty by any court of law, they have been tainted in the court o public opinion and their positions are no longer tenable until they have been able to clear themselves of the allegations against them.
“We urge the Federal Government to continue to take the lead in the prosecution of the battle against corruption in the judiciary in particular and the corruption in the polity in general,” they noted.
Expressing disappointment over the unguarded utterances of Ekiti and Rivers State governors and the silence of organisations like Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on the issue, the forum said: “We are worried by the seeming silence of the NLC, TUC and other mass-based Labour unions in the collective struggle.
“This is definitely one of the few moments silence is not golden. We are of the view that people oriented organisations should be front runners in this noble cause. Judicial fraud is the height against humanity. We hereby call on them to join the struggle if they cannot lead.
Meanwhile, Malami, who delivered the keynote address at the National Open Government Partnership retreat in Kaduna, said corruption remained Nigeria’s biggest impediment to attaining sustainable development.
According to him, that Federal Government is committed to driving out the culture of corruption by making governance more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.
He said the government would strengthen anti-corruption institutions, and the capacity of Nigerians to expose corrupt practices in all spheres of life.
Malami said the government would implement programmes aimed at exposing and punishing corrupt public officials and providing support to victims of corruption.
The minister said that Nigeria joined the open governance partnership in July 2016 as part of its commitment to deepen institutional and policy reforms for good governance.
In a message, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo also said the government remained on track in the ongoing fight against corruption.
The vice president said one of the administration’s cardinal objectives was the eradication of corruption and restoration of the economy.
Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i of Kaduna said the state was fully involved in the open governance initiative.
El-Rufa’i, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Bala Bantex, said the initiative would help in getting result oriented government.
According to him, the state has established a platform that allows citizens to monitor government projects and activities.
On his part, Mr. Sanjay Prodhan, the Chief Executive Officer, Open Government Partnership, commended the government for its determination to end corruption in all aspects of life.