President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by a coalition of civil society organizations to use his remaining time in office to uphold the rule of law, complete adherence to the Constitution and National Assembly Acts, among other laws of the land.
The delegates from about 158 Anti-Corruption Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, faith-based groups, youth and community-based organizations, made the call during a one-day national conference, weekend, in Abuja.
They said that the performance of key officials, especially those tasked with taming corruption in Nigeria, would ultimately be used to judge the effectiveness of the anti-corruption efforts of the Buhari-led administration.
The conference also witnessed exhaustive deliberations by the expanded gathering with keynote address by the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Prof. Wasiu Ademola Oyedokun-Alli, and presentations from speakers, including the Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, among others.
The conference, therefore, adopted a communique which specifically expressed displeasure of alleged disregard for the rule of law by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, under the leadership of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Delegates from the 158 organizations also alleged that Bawa’s actions as a public officer had been high-handed, prejudicial, contemptuous of Nigerian courts and oppressive to the human rights of persons under the EFCC investigation, while also condemning, in its entirety, his “deliberate disobedience of court orders.
While congratulating Nigerians on the outcome of the various elections, the Organisations faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for not keeping strictly to the promises made to Nigerians.
They however condemned what they described as the various attempts by some politicians and people of vested interests towards pushing the country dangerously to the edge of the slope, particularly the promotion of ethnic and religious divisions among Nigerians.
The communique partly reads: “In line with genuine concerns among informed Nigerians, the Conference restates that a convict, as Mr. Bawa is seen to be currently, according to the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, which has not been vacated, cannot continue to preside over an important law enforcement agency like the EFCC established to fight corruption.
“Conference expressed gross dissatisfaction with the Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria which in the last three months has crippled economic activities and put Nigerians under unprecedented and untold hardship due to the scarcity of the local currency as well as the incessant failure of the online banking system.”
They also called for serious consequences for the needless hardship Nigerians were made to contend with in the face of a policy that was not well thought out.
On anti-corruption efforts, the communique said:
“Corruption undermines growth, erodes trust in governments, fuels support for extremism and hinders the fight against poverty and inequality. Therefore, we as Nigerians, have a responsibility to prevent, detect and expose any form of corruption. In fighting corruption, we cannot, but also be mindful of the dictates of our laws, as a country under a democracy.
“The war against corruption in the country, particularly under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, has its milestones, prospects and challenges, hence, the need for us to consciously review same, while also setting an agenda for the incoming administration in the country. The subject of corruption and the war against it is of crucial importance to us, as stakeholders, in the Nigerian project.”
The organisations also demanded that states and other tiers of government must set up genuine machinery towards cooperating and consolidating the efforts of the Federal Government in tackling the various security challenges presently facing the country.
They admonished the incoming administration to work hard to ensure that Nigerians remain united in peace and justice to all.
The National Conference was convoked to discuss the State of the Nation, covering several fundamental issues, especially as they affect education, security, corruption challenges and other general interests.