From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate has joined the ongoing anti-corruption war of the Federal Government, by mandating the standing committees to include acceptance of petitions from members of the public on allegations of corrupt practices in any government establishment across the country.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who made the revelation during his speech at the 11th Annual Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)- Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) in Lagos, on Sunday, said the decision was part of its anti-corruption policy aimed at eradicating the menace in the country. Saraki similarly called on the NBA to partner the National Assembly in using amendments of existing laws and introduction of new legislative proposals aimed at curbing corruption.
The Senate President reiterated that the ongoing anti-corruption war could only succeed if it is devoid of politics, even as he said the anti-graft bodies need more capacity building to enable them carry out thorough investigations.
Saraki said: “On the issue of corruption, while we have continued to pursue this issue using our oversight scheme, and for which there has been remarkable success, we, however, think that unless we innovate and apply smart technology, we will not go too far.
“The 8th Senate is expanding its anti-corruption policy by empowering its committee to now receive corruption petitions. The National Assembly is also taking another look at the issue of expansive discretionary powers under our laws that may be contributing to make corruption fester. We would, therefore, want you to ponder on this and work with us to use law amendments and new legislative proposals to narrow corruption opportunities to the barest minimum.” The Senate president said corruption is one area of our national life we cannot afford to play politics with. He said there’s more work to be done in the aspect of prosecution of cases to ensure we succeed against corruption.
“The trend today, with the cases we have seen play out, indicates that a lot more work needs to be done to guarantee better outcome. From the prosecution culture to capacity, there is a need for thorough investigations to take precedence over media sensationalism.
“There may be need for better training and strategy building. Let me once again charge you, as lawyers, to help come up with your ideas on what legislative path we can take to help close the gap.”
He said while the 8th Senate has surpassed previous sessions through the number of bills and legislative interventions, it has also fulfilled its major promise to open up the affairs of the National Assembly and publish its budget while also using new legislation to modernise the economy.
“Our vision going forward is that with the capital outlay and regulation, it is expected that Nigeria will create 7.5 million jobs in the next five years owing solely to infrastructure reforms.
“To ensure a sound economy, our legal regime must be equally sound and provide an assuring platform for investors, entrepreneurs and businesses,” Saraki said
He noted that the NBA has a great role to play in ensuring that the objectives of the laws passed by the National Assembly to aid the economic growth are realised.
“It is upon you who work with these legal instruments, and on whom the business community and the courts will rely on providing the right advisory, that will see to the realisation of the full potential of these laws when signed into law.
“As you deliberate on your conference theme, it will be good to see the NBA develop new legal culture that will help promote these new laws for effectiveness. We will like to see new tools for better commercial contract development and enforcement, conflict management, private property protection, judicial protection and security of enterprise,” he said.