The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has said that corrupt Nigerians are worse than armed robbers, also declaring that slow judicial system occasioned by tactics of defence lawyers and interlocutory appeals were the major obstacles militating against efforts of the commission in the fight against corruption.
Deputy Head of Ibadan Zonal office of EFCC, Mr. Kazeem Oseni made this declaration on Sunday at the 13th Biennial Conference of Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates’ Association (UNIFEMGA), Ibadan chapter themed “Fight Against Corruption: Where are the religious leaders and institutions?
Oseni who spoke on the topic “Corruption in Nigeria: An overview and the efforts of the EFCC in fighting the scourge” maintained that though concerted efforts have been made to rid the country of corruption since the establishment of the commission, the enabling and operating environment in Nigeria are not encouraging to realize the objectives of the commission.
He said, “Quite frankly, the enabling and operating environment in Nigeria vis-a-vis anti-corruption war, has not been very encouraging.
“Issues such as legal technicalities, lack of cooperation from some states and local governments, public attitude towards corruption, the phenomenon of corruption mentality in Nigeria; as well as slow judicial system occasioned by tactics of defence lawyers and interlocutory appeals, seriously undermine the commission’s efforts in taming corruption.
Oseni who however said contrary to insinuations that the commission has not live up to its expectations, informed that the commission was only working hard to ensure that cases are prosecuted to the logical conclusion saying that most of the cases people may perceived as die a natural deaths are still being investigated.
He said that it will be very difficult for cases in the EFCC to die except it is concluded.
“It is very, very difficult for the EFCC case to die expect it is concluded, if you see a case, maybe investigation is still ongoing”.
Oseni while describing corruption as one of the obstacles confronting the progress of the country which is on daily basis recorded, said that the commission in its efforts to decongest the Lagos office and expand its scope established the Ibadan office in order to take care of Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and part of Kwara states.
“Now we are in Ibadan, we used to be in Lagos which is taking care of the whole of South West, now Ibadan is taking care of Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and part of Kwara state. Even in Ibadan that is far from the seat of power in Abuja, cases of corruption are recorded on daily basis. In the academic, it encourages mediocrity over meritocrity.
“Those who are corrupt are worse than armed robbers, you see armed robbers, you can fight them but these people, you will not know that they have collected your money. They can kill, in fact, some of them kill before they get the money.
“Since when Ibadan Zonal Office started operation, 3 Vice Chancellors are already in EFCC, you can see that even in the academic, we want to try as much as possible to make sure things does not go beyond that”.
“However, the commission’s response to this is to enhance the capacities of her operatives. Exposures to the requisite skills are constantly and regularly encouraged so that our investigation can be water tight and in conformity with the international best practices. I can say unequivocally that our cases are diligently investigated before going to court so as to ensure fair trail and corresponding judgment”.
“Socio-culturally, we engage and interface regularly with the public through town hall meetings and use every availing platform to discourage the get-rich-quick syndrome and flamboyant living.
“In conclusion, all hand must be on the deck to ensure we succeed in the fight against corruption. We consider everybody a stakeholder, as the EFCC does not have monopoly of knowledge to defeat all shade of graft. We all have a role to play as an individual and it is when we all change our attitude that we can see it reflected in the society. No doubt, all stakeholders and functional institutions are crucial in the maintenance of a high quality of moral values within the social system and the success or failure of our fight against corruption will depend on our willingness to take the fight through an ethical path”.
The Guest Speaker, Professor Abdul-Afis Oladosu of Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan while speaking however declared that entrusting most spiritual and morally qualified people in positions of authority was capable of reducing corruption to the barest minimum in the country.
Oladosu while delivering a paper titled “Combating Corruption- Role of Religious Leaders” remarked that failure to appoint right people in position of authority risk socio-economic and political anomie.
He informed that efforts must be made to tighten the control of religious leaders by the politicians.
“Whenever we check religion as a factor for corruption in the world today, we are actually indulging in an odious conflation of the spirit.
“We forget factors such as ignorance of the majority of adherence of the various religions and wrong interpretation of the religion text by a coterie of incompetent scholars most of whom are usually authoritarian in their approach to religious texts.
“We forget factor of greed and materialism, it is the combination of these factors that has turn places where religion could be found.
“Politicians engage in material corruption and religious leader engage in spiritual corruption. Politicians steal from the nation purse why religious leaders steal from God’s purse”.
He said that any discussion of the role of religious leaders in combating corruption must begin with the monitoring of the attitude of any person to be put in position of authority.
“Knowledge of evil and refusal to combat it is double punishment”.
The event featured inauguration of a new executive that will pilot the affairs of the association for a period of two years.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Chairman, UNIFEMGA, Ibadan Chapter, Mr. Munir Ademola remarked that the topic was selected based on the effort of President Buhari led-administration in fighting corruption.
Ademola said that corruption was equally fighting back from every angle in Nigeria.