The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Tuesday in Abuja gave kudos to what he characterised as Nigeria’s rising profile in the fight against corruption and which he said was now earning the country international recognition and commendation.
“These commendations have not only translated into appreciation by the international community, but it has also led to establishing their (international community) faith in what we are doing as a nation,” said Mr Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, while meeting with officials of the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch in his office.
“Nigeria has succeeded in establishing a culture, institutions as well as laws and legislations associated with the fight against corruption and has also succeeded in putting in place a conducive working environment intended and targeted at institutionalizing the fight against corruption,” the country’s chief law officer remarked.
While most countries are battling unsuccessfully to retrieve looted assets from their political elites, a delighted Mr Malami said it was the goodwill that the country had garnered, which helped Nigeria’s success in her ‘certain recoveries,’ making her, according to Mr Malami, an exception at establishing standards.
“I think we are imbibing the culture of transparency and accountability in what we do,” Mr Malami said, pointing to the institutionalisation of asset recovery and disposal as indications of Nigeria’s ethical progress.
However, Mr Malami’s pronouncement came against the background of a stunning 2020 Transparency International [TI] Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report which scored Nigeria 25/100, one point less than its 26 points earning in the previous year. The CPI report also had Nigeria at a 149 placement out of 180 sampled countries, a record that is three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019. In the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places on the index from 148 to 144. Transparency International assesses countries on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean”.
The latest ranking is an indicator that corruption is perceived to have worsened in the country within the last year.
Umar Yakubu, chief executive at the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch, in an earlier remark, had asked Mr Malami to provide an enabling environment for the passage and amendment of several anti-corruption bills.
These bills include the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill; the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill; the Witness Protection Bill and the Audit Bill; as well as the amendments of the EFCC, NFIU and ICPC Establishment Acts.
Accepting Mr Yakubu’s challenge, the attorney general said work was already apace in the direction of reform of some anti-corruption instruments but asked for patience, adding that this was where more work still needed to be done in spite of the progress the nation was already making in many areas around the fight against corruption.
“…I am happy to state that these policy decisions are paying off because,” according to him, “from whatever direction you look at it either from the point of prevention or enforcement, I think we are not doing very bad as far as the fight against corruption is concerned but that does not mean that there are no rooms for improvement.”
He added that “on a daily basis, we are striving and working hard to see what additional policies, legislations, institutions if the need arises for the purposes of deepening our transparency, accountability and integrity ensuring at the end of the day we address the level of corruption…”
Mr Malami, enthusiastic, accepted that there are a lot of legislations “which have the capacity to turn things around and provide additional support” in fighting corruption pending at the national assembly.
To achieve success with these pending legislations, Mr Malami believes, his office can work together with the group in facilitating their passage and acceptance, while registering his and the Ministry of Justice’s commitment to work with the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch. He suggested that the group should work with the responsible committee within the ministry to create a road map to ensure a collaborative path in the quest for this vision.
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