Adibe Emenyonu in Benin-city

The Africa Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has advocated for life imprisonment for corrupt government officials as a way to nip in the bud the problem of corruption that has become endemic in the Nigerian state.

Speaking at a press briefing in Benin-city, Edo State, at the weekend to mark the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, Deputy Executive Director of the group, Leo Atakpu, who represented the Executive Director of ANEEJ,  Rev. David Ugolor, reiterated the group’s opposition of death penalty, but said  the organisation is urging the National Assembly on legislation prescribing long prison terms for corrupt practices.

He said with over 133 million or 63 percent of Nigerians living in multi-dimensional poverty, there is need for concerted efforts against the high cases of corruption in the country.

The anti-corruption crusader lamented Nigerians growing concern over how governments at the federal, state and local government levels are managing the nation’s wealth.

Atakpu challenged Niger Delta governors to give accurate account of the N625.4 billion refund of 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P from the federal account in 2021 and 2022.

“These resources have not translated to significantly improving the living condition of the people. The people must now begin to hold these governments to account on the use of public funds,” he said.

Flanked by a member of the board of ANEEJ, Nowinta Igbotako and the Mentoring and Evaluation Manager, Sandra Eguagie, Atakpu maintained that corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires, adding that it also stunt economic development while foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses find it very difficult to survive.

He advised the federal government to avoid the pitfalls of the previous strategy by inaugurating the Inter Ministerial Committee as it has the responsibility to facilitate the Anti-Corruption Funding Framework and the development of sector specific strategies for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).

Atakpu added: “We equally encourage the federal government to provide support for the Inter-Agency Task Team to meet quarterly to promote learning and collaboration among anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.

“We are encouraged by the effort of Nigerian government in concluding work on some anti-corruption laws as we now have the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Act 2022, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.”

He, however, urged the Presidential

Initiative for Continuous Audit to expedite action on the Witness and Management Bill and Public Interest Disclosure and Protection Bill 2022 (Whistleblower Bill) as they are still pending.

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