A rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called for the inclusion of civil society groups in the processes of appointing and removing heads of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies.
The group said in a statement Monday that such a move would dilute the president’s influence over the anti-graft agencies and accord them the needed independence to carry out their duties without fear or favour.
Last week’s sudden removal of Farida Waziri as chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), though broadly welcomed, has been faulted by some Nigerians, who see the action as an abuse of powers by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mrs. Waziri had until April 2012 to complete her first term of five years as enshrined in the EFCC law but was booted out before the expiration of tenure.
The rights group, SERAP, which had always faulted Mrs Waziri’s approach to the fight against corruption, said the decision to replace the former EFCC chief with Ibrahim Lamorde, was “an important step towards revitalizing the waning fight against corruption in the country.”
It however added that the “appointment in itself is not enough to address the endemic and institutionalized corrupt practices in the country. What is required is a comprehensive approach, and the necessary political will to stop grand corruption at the very top of government.”
Key to achieving that goal, SERAP said, is broadening the process of deciding on the leadership of the EFCC and the sister agency, the IndependentCorrupt and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC).
“An important step of this reform is for the government to ensure that the nomination and appointment of heads of such important anticorruption bodies like the EFCC and ICPC take place in a transparent process, with full consultation and involvement of civil society, and, most crucially, of the Nigerian victims of corruption, to provide meaningful contributions or to engage in a fruitful dialogue on a matter of utmost importance to Nigeria,” the statement, signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said.
“For such participation to be meaningful, President Jonathan should among others, allow and encourage the submission of relevant information by Nigerian victims and by civil society; and ensure the publication of names of nominees to allow Nigerians to make comments on their suitability or otherwise to head anti-graft agencies,” the organization added.
According to the group, “The government will have to show in words and in deed that it is fully committed to fighting corruption by also allowing the anticorruption bodies to function independently and without any interference whatsoever. At the moment that is not the case.
“We urge the government of President Goodluck to move swiftly to strengthen national anticorruption laws including through the domestication and effective implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified.”