19 June 2018

Nigeria: ICPC Secures 13 Convictions in Six Months, Laments Stagnating Judicial Process

Abuja — The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) monday revealed that it had successfully secured 13 convictions between January and June 2018, while also losing few cases in the process.

The acting Chairman of ICPC, Musa Abubakar, disclosed this in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists at the opening event of a 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'.

He noted that the recent convictions of two former governors are a very important message sent by the present administration that it is serious about fighting against corruption.

Abubakar however lamented that the judicial system in the country is so stagnating that it takes a very long time for convictions to happen.

He noted: "The 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. 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

"This year, we have prosecuted quite a number of cases, and I assure you that this year alone, we have gotten about 13 convictions and lost a very few."

The ICPC boss decried a number of challenges militating against the speedy dispensation of cases particularly corruption cases.

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 way one can achieve what you want. Often times, our prosecutors find 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."

To this end, Abubakar stressed that the agency was pushing hard to ensure that the Witness Protection Bill, currently before the National Assembly, is passed and assented to by the president.

"In some cases where somebody is threatened, he may be relocated to another place; given pseudo names and identity covered so that you won't know he is the person that testified against somebody. So, these are some of the things we expect to have and it requires resources. Once we have that bill in place, certainly things will change, and at our level, we have a proposal to the president in respect of this pending of the passage of the bill," he noted.

Earlier, the Nigerian Representative/ Chairperson, Committee on Social Affairs and Health at Cluster Committee to the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the AU-ECOSOCC, 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 had 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."

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