By Uche Bibilari
The Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu has called on Nigerians to actively participate in the fight against corruption by providing useful information.
Magu made the call at the Unveiling of Corruption Anonymous (CORA), the Civil Society Whistle Blower Support Initiative of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) on Thursday in Abuja.
Magu, who was represented by Mr Osita Nwajah, Director, Public Affairs, EFCC, said that this project and the whistle-blower policy underscore the commission’s repeated admonition to Nigerians to come together in dealing with the cankerworm of corruption.
“As I always say, EFCC, and indeed all government institutions responsible for tackling corruption cannot do it alone, we at EFCC believe that we do not have a monopoly of knowledge.
“We cannot fight corruption alone; we need every Nigeria to come on board because the negative effect of corruption does not discriminate against ethnicity, religion or political affiliation’’.
He said that in spite the unholy alliances of the corrupt officials, they are fighting back; Nigerians have so far been very responsive in reporting corruption cases.
“Nigerians from all walks of life have seen reasons this war must be fought collectively and why corruption must be brought to its knees and those who feast in its temple are stopped and punished.
“At the EFCC we have created an environment where those who have information about corrupt practices can approach the commission, and confidently give us information that will be put into effective use’’.
He said that since the commencement of the whistle-blower policy the commission has received hundreds of actionable tips that led to the recovering of the flowing cash; N527.6 million, 52.2millon U.S. dollars, 21.2 million pounds and 547.7 million Euro.
The acting chairman said that the commission through this window has seen many Nigerians whose motivation was not just to benefit from the recoveries, but the satisfaction of seeing ill-gotten money recovered for the good of all.
Magu said that the commission has treated every tip referred to them with strict sense of responsibility bearing in mind that such undertaking by the whistle-blower was a matter of trust and even risk.
“We have been careful not to be used by mischief makers who would want to abuse this process.
“Let me reiterate that just as there is consequence for corruption, there will be consequence for those who want to take advantage of this noble initiative in the fight against corruption to create mischief.
“We have responded to this possibility by developing a water-tight mechanism of both reporting and crosschecking information,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Chido Onumah, Coordinator, AFRICMIL, said that corruption was the number one enemy of Nigeria and the main reason Nigeria remains underdeveloped.
He said that corruption was the cancer that was destroying the foundation of our society, adding that if no drastic measures are taken to deal with it we would soon have no country.
Onumah said that the organisation has lined up series of activities, which include creating awareness through the media and civil society engagement, to achieve their goal of popularising whistle-blowing as a tool for reducing corruption.
“So far for the whistle-blower policy, it is safe to say it has been a success. Whistle blowing has added a fresh impetus to the anti-graft war.
“In less than a year of its inauguration, it has led to the recovery of staggering amounts of looted funds, thus proving to be an effective and reliable mechanism for combating corruption’’.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Bolaji Owasoroye said that every citizen has the duty to report crime, adding that the duty was both moral and legal because it enhances the rule of law, peace and security of the society.
“Corruption is a crime that undermines both the development and growth of the society and as we know corruption is the push factor for our current sorry situation.
“Corruption has slowed down our growth, development and has escalated poverty in our country; the duty to eliminate corruption is constitutional’’.
According to him, the duty to report crime and corruption is enhanced when the state itself demonstrates the political will to hold wrongdoers accountable and create a dependable disclosure framework.
He said that the fear entertained in the past has been diminished by the growth of technology that makes it easier and safe to disclose information without being identified.
Mr Dayo Olaide, Representative MacArthur Foundation, said that we have two ‘H’ to pay attention to when tackling corruption, which includes Hopelessness and Helplessness.
He explained that for a citizen to report any corrupt practices he must be guaranteed that the government would take action.
Olaide said that the foundation would continue to support Nigeria in its fight against corruption.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the initiative was sponsored by MacArthur Foundation.