COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF ONE-DAY HIGH LEVEL WORKSHOP TO SHARE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION BEST PRACTICES TO ADDRESS EMERGING ISSUES ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) WITH SUPPORT FROM MACARTHUR FOUNDATION AND FORD FOUNDATION IN ABUJA ON 22ND MAY, 2018 AT TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA.

Preamble

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organised a One-day High Level Workshop to Share International Anti-Corruption Best Practices to Address Emerging Issues themed “Preventing the Facilitation of Corruption in Public and Private Sector: Leveraging on International Frameworks to Promote Sustainable Development” in Abuja. The Workshop aimed at sharing international anti-corruption best practices to address emerging issues towards building integrity and emerging best practices on curbing corruption by leveraging on international frameworks to promote sustainable development in Nigeria.

The meeting was graced by the Chair of Transparency International, Ms. Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio, renowned human rights activist and former Minister of Education, Dr. (Mrs) Oby Ezekwesilli, Regional Coordinator-West Africa of Transparency International, Samuel Kaninda, Members of the Board members of CISLAC, representatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  Umar Suleiman and Aliyu Yusuf; Federal Ministry of Justice, Odesanya Kolawole; Bureau of Public Procurement, Adesina Mokolu, Nigeria Police Force – DIG H.M. Dagala; Technical Unit on Governance and  Anticorruption Reforms,  Lilian A.K Anyawu; Code of Conduct Bureau, Okota Richard; Federal Inland Revenue Services, Dir. Legal Ike Odume, Presidential Committee on Anticorruption, Adesanya Olusegun; Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr. Dauda Garuba; Corporate Affairs Commission, Rasheed Raheem; Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUMUL), civil society organisations and the Media. After exhaustive deliberations and panel discussions on various thematic issues like Beneficial ownership and open contracting, implications of ease of doing business in Nigeria: prospects and challenges in the fight against corruption, deepening the understanding of open contracting in Nigeria and it’s implication on national development, recovery of proceeds of crimes/opportunities and challenges in the utilization of the anticorruption legal framework, international asset recovery and management of recovered assets in Nigeria, and implications on corruption in the achievement of SDGs in Nigeria, the following observations and recommendations were made:

Observations:                                

  1. Globally, no fewer than 2 billion people live under severely corrupt governments, a clear indication that citizens are predominant victims of corruption with precarious impacts on human rights and social accountability.

  2. While the impact of corruption manifests as less education, health, development and less opportunity for citizens, corrupt practices have been normalized as usual or acceptable way of doing business in many countries.

  3. In Nigeria, corruption threatens socio-economic development, fuels maladministration and deceitfulness, and blatantly undermines the democratic ethos, the institutions of democracy, the rule of law and the foundational values of our emerging democratic project

  4. In spite emphasis placed by successive administration in combating corruption in the public sector which accounted for an estimated 70% of corruption cases in Nigeria, the spite of corrupt practices in the public sector remained a major impediment to service delivery and development success of the administrations.

  5. While monumental corruption is directly or indirectly predominant in the Nigeria’s extractive sector, the existing excessive centralized power operating in opaque context, especially in the oil and gas sector remains a major challenge confronting transparency and accountability in beneficial ownership, hence impeding effort at addressing corruption inflicted processes in public contracting.

  6. Despite accelerated convictions of culprits and repatriations of loots between 2016 and 2017, none has made sufficient impact on asset recovery or positively defined public opinions.

  7. Non-existence of enabling institutionalised mechanism to adequately verify the credibility of beneficial owners’ information from public institutions creates tendency for politically exposed activities in public contracting.

  8. Delayed inauguration of National Procurement Council in line with Public Procurement Act paves ways for persistent involvement, interference and non-compliance by the Federal Executive Council in public contracting with resultant invasion of politically exposed activities.

  9. As language barrier and jurisdictional differences hampers recovery efforts of looted assets, existing rigorous conditions by the assets-deposited countries discourage assets repatriation and recovery process and utilisation in accordance with the Nigerian government agenda.

Recommendations:

  1. Prompt deregulation of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to decentralise existing excessive centralized power and encourage full transparency and accountability of beneficial owners’ information in contracting processes of the oil and gas sector.

  2. Embracing high level professionalism, openness and transparency in interrogating and investigating corruption cases by anti-graft institutions to earn credibility and support of the citizens, who will take ownership and de-normalise behavour in demanding social justice and accountability in governance.

  3. Building strong institutions and de-normalising citizens’ perception through the passage and effective implementation of internationally ratified conventions to change process and institutions.

  4. Ample and sincere policy response to reported corruption, giving zero chance to nepotism to revert current unfavourable indices and successfully combat the growing menace in Nigeria.

  5. Institutionalising appropriate preventive mechanisms and ensuring governance presence especially in ungoverned areas with enhanced priority to accord basic and qualitative lives of the people.

  6. Massive sensitisation for community involvement and participation in open contacting processes—planning, award and implementation of a contract; and mainstreamed community-based approach in raising public and policy consciousness against corruption to ensure widespread accountability, ownership, sustainability.

  7. Proper review and identification of key areas for public reforms to mitigate corruption tendency and de-normalise politically exposed processes in beneficial ownership of public contracting.

  8. Institutionalising a reliable mechanism to verify the credibility of beneficial owners’ information from public institutions and discourage propensity for politically exposed persons in public contracting.

  9. Institutionalising strong and holistic ethical standard in public sector to ensure compliance and strict adherence to code of conducts to complement effective implementation of policy and legislation on anticorruption.

  10. Immediate establishment of the National Procurement Council in line with Public Procurement Act 2007 to operate independent of the Federal Executive Council to effectively coordinate approval and award processes of public contracting.

  11. Enhance collaborations by the anti-graft agencies with assets-deposited countries in the signing of a mutual legal assistance MoU to ease asset repatriation of looted assets.

Signed:

Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)

Executive Director of CISLAC

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