Buhari challenges National Assembly on swift passage of anti-corruption bills

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the National Assembly on the need for swift passage of Anti-Corruption Bills for laws that will eradicate corruption in the country.

Mr. Buhari gave the charge in a nationwide broadcast to Nigerians to commemorate the country’s 57th Independence anniversary on Sunday in Abuja.

He acknowledged that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task, but said the government had empowered teams of prosecutors and assembled detailed databases for effective and efficient prosecution of corrupt officials.

“We are fully aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task.

“We expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly through judicial obstruction and political diversion.

“But, we are determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic,’’ he said.

Commending the National Assembly, however, for refocusing on its oversight committees, Buhari called on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn.

He reassured that his administration on its part, would work for accountability at all levels of government.

He stated that already, the Federal Government had accelerated the recovery of stolen funds, adding that Nigeria had signed multi-lateral cooperation agreements on criminal matters with friendly countries.

The president, on August 24, signed nine different agreements, including the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates (UAE), toward strengthening Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign.

The pact includes Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters (the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).

“I commend the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees.

“They should, in addition, ensure swift passage of enabling corruption bills. But, fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation.

“I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn, by not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption.

“The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – Federal, State and Local Governments. CHANGE will then be real,’’ he said.

Mr. Buhari also identified some of his administration’s new institutional reforms to include enforcing Treasury Single Account, Whistle-Blowers Policy and Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System.

He noted that there were also signs of increasing cooperation from the nation’s judiciary.

He said: “Recently, the Chief Justice of the Federation directed Heads of all our Courts of first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officer found to have been compromised.

“Justice Salami has just been appointed to chair the Judiciary’s anti-graft committee. Government expects a lot from this Committee.’’

The president also stated that his administration had resolved to intensify efforts toward addressing the country’s challenges and problems to accelerate progress and prosperity across the nation. (NAN)

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