The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Friday in Abuja reiterated the National Assembly’s commitment to curb corruption and insecurity in the country through the enactment of enabling laws.
Lawan made the pledge at the National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and insecurity in Nigeria, organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He said that the National Assembly in its efforts towards unmasking the perpetrators of insecurity in Nigeria, had realised the need to enact an anti-corruption laws that would stop illicit financial flows which could be channeled into funding insecurity in Nigeria.
The Senate President explained that the 8th Assembly had to this end passed the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill.
Lawan added that this was one of the major anti-corruption laws that saved the country from being expelled from the global body of the Egmont Group.
He said that the 9th Assembly similarly, in collaboration with security and law enforcement agencies, passed three bills aimed at combating money laundering, terrorism financing and the proceeds of crime.
Lawan said the laws, which were in tandem with President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to fight corruption and curb insurgency further strengthened the agencies’ capacity to tackle terrorists’ activities against the state.
The Senate President noted that the challenges of Nigeria’s security infrastructure were the concern of everyone and not just those in government alone.
“Indeed, this policy dialogue is showing us that summarily dealing with the ugliness of insecurity in Nigeria requires more than the deployment of military might. We must look at social and economic vices like corruption, which enables and even propagates insecurity.
“As lawmakers, we look forward to the eventual policy brief that will be shared hereafter to guide the nation’s policy direction in ending insecurity in Nigeria.
“I encourage all of us to fully participate and contribute to this all important policy dialogue, as it presents a rare opportunity for a multisectoral view of the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking, ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said that corruption was a major contributory factor to the continuous existence and propagation of insecurity in the country.
According to him, ICPC’s research and investigation findings on the subject matter shows that public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enables insecurity, and can sometimes complement it.
He said that cases of job racketeering abound in the security sector and were under investigation by the Commission.
“There are also ongoing investigations into military contracts spending.
“Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than 10 years cumulative sum of about N6 billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances.
“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and our sister agencies for embezzlement of funds allocated to security,” he said.
He said there was a case of a former head of one of the arms of the military during his tenure who deposited the sum of N4 billion from military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is a beneficial owner and sole signatory.
“The proceeds were used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies.
“Some of the properties paid for by his service were also fraudulently converted to his use.
“ICPC’s prosecution of this high ranking officer to recover all the implicated assets was strangely frustrated by a recently retired High Court judge who decided to order for forfeiture of some of the assets to the Federal Government and the rest left to the suspect,” he said.
The ICPC boss added that the commission had filed notice of appeal, adding that this strange development aggravated an already bad situation and escalated insecurity and impunity.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, in his remark, said the war against corruption was a war in progress with the Anti-graft agencies in the country recording remarkable successes.
He advocated for greater focus on addressing the causes of corruption, and urged the ICPC to remain steadfast in the fight against corruption.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who also attributed insecurity to corruption, assured of the support of the armed forces in tackling the menace.
The policy dialogues and concomitant policy briefs are designed to be part of the Commission’s key performance indicators in the implementation of the Federal Government’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NAS), 2017 – 2021.
The dialogues are meant to deliberate on issues bordering on systemic challenges which require institutional improvement with practicable solutions.