The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU -ECOSOCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), and other stakeholders at the ongoing AU ECOSOCC conference on corruption in Africa has decried the legal challenges association with fighting corruption in Africa.
Speaking on Monday during the opening event of the four day anti-corruption conference organised by the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU -ECOSOCC), with the theme; “Winning the Fight Against Corruption; A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the Ag. Chairman, ICPC, Dr. Musa Abubakar, said the judicial system in the country is so stagnating that it takes a very long time for convictions to happen.
According to him, “one of these challenges actually is procuring and securing our witnesses. Witnesses are very important in the successful prosecution of cases and without witnesses, there is no how one can achieve what you want. Often times, our prosecutors finds it difficult to ensure that witnesses testify before the court because sometimes they go to court and discover that the witness has actually fled; Perhaps that witness must have been incentivised by the person being prosecuted.”
He revealed further that the Commission has successfully secured 13 convictions between January and June, 2018, while also losing few cases in the process.
He noted: ” The general public should expect continued fight against corruption. We are also prosecuting quite a number of people and we will also strengthen our preventive mandate which is where we really put our efforts. At the moment, we have a number of cases of federal agencies being prosecuted by us. This last week, we arraigned one before the court here in Abuja and we are also arraigning another very soon. We also have a former governor prosecuted jointly between us and the EFCC.
“This year we have prosecuted quite a number of cases and i assure you, this year alone, we have gotten about 13 convictions and we lost a very few,” Abubakar added.
To this end, Abubakar stressed that the agency is pushing hard to ensure that the Witness Protection Bill currently before the National Assembly is passed and assented by the President.
Earlier, the Nigerian Representative/ Chairperson, Committee on Social Affairs & Health at Cluster Committee to the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the AU-ECOSOCC, Dr. Tunji Asaolu, said the workshop on anti-corruption was organised to support President Muhammadu Buhari, and his counterparts across Africa to achieve the objective of riding the continent of corruption.
He lamented that corruption has gone deep in Africa with numerous challenges, stressing that, “we cannot keep corruption and at the same time, yearn for development. For us to achieve Agenda 2063 of the Union, corruption must be first dealt with.”
Asaolu opined that endemic corruption in the continent has made many young people vulnerable to radicalisation, violent extremism, exploitation and victimisation, as well as getting involved involved criminal offences, being trafficked, abducted as child soldiers, and fall victim of gun violence, HIV/AIDS or drugs.
He stated: “All these dynamics could be linked to the consequences of corruption and lack of active involvement of civil society in follow-up on the implementation of the some of the policies of the Union. I am very sure that through this summit and with the involvement of ECOSOCC, All will be a thing of the past.
“Therefore base on the mandate of ECOSOCC to mobilize Africa CSOs, NGOs and other civil right organisations across Africa to key into the fight because if we don’t kill corruption within the continent, corruption will kill the continent, that is why no effort is too small, the fight against corruption must be a collective responsibility.”
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