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"A robust legal framework is crucial in combating corruption as it establishes clear rules, defines offenses, and prescribes penalties." Comrade Nelson Nwafor.

"This helps deter corrupt practices, ensures accountability, and fosters a transparent and fair system. Additionally, a strong legal framework provides a basis for effective law enforcement, prosecution, and judicial proceedings, promoting a culture of integrity and reducing opportunities for corruption to thrive."

The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a Nigerian-based environmental, Anti Corruption and Human Rights Advocacy group has pitched its voice to the call by other Anti Corruption and Human Rights Advocacy groups nationwide, to mark the 2023 International Anti-Corruption Day of the UN in a special way.

FENRAD, in its own special way, used the opportunity to remind the Nigerian governments of the need to unite in the anti-corruption campaign, especially under the new administration, led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. 

The Foundation leadership, at a well attended press conference, gave reason for this assertion stressing that, its statement is not based on political considerations but largely motivated by the fact that Nigeria has a new government and therefore, the tactics deployed to the war against corruption must change for the better. 

FENRAD, in a statement, specifically lamented the ugly trend whereby "corruption, having earlier permeated our society, took root, deepened and entrenched itself in all our institutions, has become so manifest. It is therefore for this and other reasons that the new government must strive to end corruption." 

According to the statement which was signed by the Executive Director of FENRAD, Comrade Nelson Nwafor, "the last administration ruled largely through court disobedience and without regard to the rule of law. Under its watch, animals acquired uncharacteristic traits such that reptiles, primates and rodents "swallowed money." This year's observance day, with the theme "UNCAC at 20; Uniting the World Against Corruption," couldn't have been less ideal. 

"It is the duty of all in Nigeria to unite against corruption, if that monster is to be defeated we need to see that as a national project." Nwafor stated.

Speaking further, the FENRAD Executive Director disclosed that "it is for this reason that the Foundation calls on all governments to heighten the war against corruption and to tie up the loose ends. In Nigeria today; illegal and continued detention of political prisoners thrive. There is a growing trust deficit today concerning the judiciary which was not made better by a startling revelation from a certain retiring Justice of the Supreme, who alleged that there is corruption in the system. 

"The post-election litigations presented us a new dimension of justice summersault, a situation where we graduated from witnessing courts of coordinate jurisdiction issue contradictory judgements to the lower courts upturning judgements delivered by the apex court, all in one dispensation. 

"To many in Nigeria, justice is transactional. Today, the new cliché is "judiciary capture." He said.

"From procuring ₦160 million-worth of vehicles for some 469 lawmakers, most of whom have collected before in the last four, eight or so years ago to the story of a presidential yacht, including ₦70 and ₦35 billion respectively awarded to the lawmakers and judiciary, what we hear from a nation borrowing to fund her budget is insufferable. The Foundation calls on the federal and the thirty-six states governments to mount and pursue vigorously the campaign to defeat corruption, rather than masquerade in affected pretension. 

"The recent diplomatic junket during the Conference of Parties of 2023 involving some thousands of delegates or nearly a half of a thousand is unsuitable for a time when Nigerians are being urged to make sacrifices, under the pains brought about by subsidy-free regime and monetary policy reforms. The saddest of it all was that the nation could be spending more on delegates than the USA and the United Kingdom, all her creditors. 

"The Foundation is deeply worried that billions are awarded to presidential travels through appropriation every fiscal year. The Foundation calls for financial discipline.

"Public officials, including those in charge of monetary policy, meddle in politics even when their vaults are used as the repository of electoral materials. Card-carrying members of political parties are appointed commissioners in INEC against the oath of neutrality. All these are not how to win the war against corruption, but could rather sustain corruption. 

"The most lamentable in all this is that in the last eight years, the Department of State Secret Service, DSS became an actualizing agent of lawlessness. Court scenes had witnessed an attempt to rearrest someone the court had freed or inter-agency rivalry. 

"The DSS, as they are called, regrettably became a state within a state." Nwafor lamented. 

"Today is not a day of grief. It is not merely a day of stock taking. It is, we believe, a day when we all should remind ourselves that we cannot remain where we were in the last decade. It is our thinking that to end or at least fight corruption, the nation needs and ought to be doing better. So far, the anti-corruption campaign of the current administration is still imprecise, vague and almost unknowable. Better can be done. 

"Across the thirty-six states, a recent data revealed how taxpayers' money is spent on foreign trips, refreshments, servicing of jets, political mobilisation and sundry other overheads. The war against corruption is never for the federal government alone, hence we all must unite in this crusade. We are all in this together, we either save ourselves or we sink." He warned.

"Fighting corruption in Nigeria," according to Nelson Nwafor, "faces challenges such as entrenched systemic corruption, weak law enforcement, lack of transparency, a culture of impunity. Also, limited resources, political interference, and public apathy contribute to the complexity of addressing this issue."

He therefore, gave the following suggestions:

Legal framework-

* Nigeria is a signatory to several international anticorruption agreements and treaties. Some notable ones include the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on the Fight against Corruption. These agreements aim to promote transparency, accountability, and cooperation in combating corruption on a global scale.

* A robust legal framework is crucial in combating corruption as it establishes clear rules, defines offenses, and prescribes penalties. This helps deter corrupt practices, ensures accountability, and fosters a transparent and fair system. Additionally, a strong legal framework provides a basis for effective law enforcement, prosecution, and judicial proceedings, promoting a culture of integrity and reducing opportunities for corruption to thrive.

To fight corruption we must all embrace:

This are the recommendation to fight corruption:

1.Transparency and Accountability

* Both transparency and accountability promote openness, honesty, and responsible governance. When institutions and processes are transparent, information is readily available to the public, making it harder for corruption to thrive in the shadows. Accountability ensures that those in power are held responsible for their actions, creating a deterrent against corrupt practices. Together, these principles contribute to fostering a culture of integrity and reducing opportunities for corruption to take precedence.

* Successful examples where increased transparency led to positive chage -

#Countries like Brazil and Indonesia have shown improvements in governance and citizen engagement through increased transparency, fostering positive change.  

#Organizations like Transparency International have contributed to exposing corruption, prompting reforms in some countries

2. Community sensitization / grassroots movements in raising awareness and holding leaders accountable

- Refer the public to successful anti-corruption movements around the world

3. Education -

Education plays a crucial role in preventing corruption by promoting ethics, transparency, and accountability. It empowers individuals with critical thinking skills, ethical values, and a sense of civic responsibility, creating a foundation for a corruption-resistant society.

4. Awareness - 

On the consequences of corruption such as hindering of economic growth, social and political crises, weakening of democracy, etc  

5. Partnerships and collaboration - 

*  CSOs can provide oversight, advocacy, and expertise, while governments can establish and enforce regulations.

* Businesses, through ethical practices and transparency, contributes to a culture of integrity. These collaborations promote sustainable development and trust in institutions.

* A typical example of International collaboration in the fight against corruption is  the initiatives like the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) which provides a framework for countries to work together, share best practices, and coordinate efforts to combat corruption globally

6. How Technology and Innovation can be used to enhance transparency and reduce corruption -

* Technology and innovation can play a crucial role in enhancing transparency by Implementing digital platforms for financial transactions, e-governance, and data management. 

* Also, blockchain technology can be employed to ensure the integrity of data and transactions, making them resistant to tampering.

* Regular audits and real-time monitoring through technology can also contribute to deterring corrupt practices and promoting accountability; publicly accessible databases and digital tools can empower citizens to actively engage in monitoring and reporting corruption, promoting a more transparent and accountable society.

7.Proven cases of successful anticorruption - 

* Several countries have made significant strides in tackling corruption through various measures. One notable example is Singapore, which has been praised for its strong anti-corruption efforts, strict legal framework, and effective enforcement. Another example is Denmark, known for its transparent government practices and low levels of corruption. These countries emphasize a combination of robust legal systems, strong institutions, and a culture of accountability to combat corruption successfully.

8. Actions and strategies for a sustainable anti-corruption in Nigeria :

* Implementing a multi-faceted approach is crucial:

Strengthening anti-corruption institutions, promoting transparency, and engaging the public are key strategies. 

* Also, fostering international cooperation, enforcing strict penalties, and utilizing technology for oversight can contribute to a sustained effort against corruption.

9. Call to Action -

To combat corruption in Nigeria: 

* Individuals can advocate for transparency in  governance, support anti-corruption initiatives, and demand accountability from authorities.

* Community sensitization/awareness, education on ethical practices, and fostering a culture of integrity are essential for a sustainable change.

The Executive Director, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwofor concluded.

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