From Samuel Bello, Abuja
Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, has explained why prosecution of identified treasury and assets looters has not moved at the desired pace and that sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David babachir Lawal, will be prosecuted for corrupt practices.
Osinbajo said “strategic advice” from independent sources, anti-corruption committees and special panels set up for recovery of assets that were allegedly looted by previous government officials, has prevented the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration from going forward with its desire to prosecute the looters.
The vice president disclosed this at the 2017 celebration of the International Anti-corruption Day, organised by the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), in Abuja, yesterday.
He also disclosed that the Federal Government has succeeded in weeding out 50,000 ghost workers from its payroll in the last two years, while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged 17 suspects to court for allegedly contributing to the crime.
Osinbajo, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Rule of Law, Mr. Akingbolahan Adeniran, however explained that many assets were being recovered from those who stole from government.
“The administration has relied a lot on strategic advice, looking at the fight against corruption from a broad perspective, and basically relying on independent advice in order to move forward in fighting corruption.It is focused a lot on prevention and this is one aspect that a lot of people do not talk about so much.
“Then enforcement, this is the key aspect of the fight against corruption, there has to be accountability for those who basically violate the law. Then, asset recovery, which is a key element of the fight against corruption. As regards assets recovery, where there has been no conviction, it is because of the strategic advice we were given,” said Osinbajo.
He explained that government has approved a National Anti-corruption Strategy with which it would engage all strata of the society in the fight against corruption. The strategy document, he maintained, has five thematic areas and appeals to the efforts of international communities on the fight against corruption.
Also, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who doubles as the IATT chairman, said government will continue to make it increasingly difficult for corrupt practices to thrive in all its businesses.
Fayemi called on countries where financially corrupt Nigerians keep the monies they steal from the government to complement Nigeria’s efforts by depriving them of safe havens for their stolen wealth.
He said: “We acknowledge the fact that we have huge corruption problems. We are also not relenting in our efforts to deal with the issues. We continue to see quickening of efforts in enforcement and sanctions as well as innovative methods to prevent corruption.
“However, there is still a lot to be done. For us to succeed in this fight, we must say no to impunity and eliminate the syndrome of sacred cows. Our emphasis must be on tackling corruption from the roots and closing the doors to illicit activities before they happen. This will preserve the integrity of our systems and save us valuable resources for sustainable development.”
“To demonstrate commitment as a people, there must be leadership by example. The highly placed must show example by following due process and avoiding impunity. This will speak louder than all the words and public enlightenment campaigns. Our international friends must stop to offer safe havens to illicit financial proceeds, and once they do, they must work with us to recover them,” Fayemi, added.