OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives on Thursday commenced public hearing on a bill seeking to strengthen the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Act of 2000.
Among key stakeholders at the hearing were officials of the ICPC, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Law Reform Commission (NLRC) and Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN).
These stakeholders lauded efforts of the House committee in strengthening the legal framework for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
While the ICPC and EFCC called for the need to be given fraction of the recovered funds to aid their work, the Nigeria Law Reform Commission kicked against such reason being that it will defeat the aim of the anti graft agencies as established.
According to the Director, Public Law of the Commission, Kodilinye Ezeobi, if the anti-graft agency is allowed to take some fraction of recovered fund, they will forget their core mandate and become a money making agency.
On his part, acting chairman of ICPC, Bako Abdullahi further proposed a reduction of the commission’s board membership from 12 to 6.
Abdullahi maintained that the present composition of 2 members per geo political zone is not just large but will consume much of the commission’s budget.
He also proposed that the powers of ICPC to prosecute cases should not be restricted to state high courts only.
‘We experience difficulty when state high ranks are involved and the courts shy away from such cases.”
The ICPC boss said he want his agency to be at par with EFCC so that it can either prosecute at state high courts or federal.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara who was represented by the House Deputy minority whip, Binta Bello, at the hearing noted that the successful prosecution of the war against corruption is imperative for rapid development as well as elimination of poverty and injustice.
He noted that the mandate of the ICPC is broad but sector based.
He said: “Other Anti-graft agencies like the EFCC were established to re enforce the fight against corrupt practices in the country including economic and financial crimes.
“It is however the general consensus that this effort is yet to yielded the much desired result.
“it is in order to fortify the legal framework backing this anti-corruption war that we are gathered here today.
“This is clearly the case in a developing country like Nigeria, where limited resources earmarked for infrastructural developments are either out rightly embezzled or otherwise depleted through kickbacks and over invoicing by government officials.
“This amendment is therefore aimed at deterring such corrupt public officers.”