In some countries today, corruption is gradually being addressed and given the necessary attention since it is generally accepted that corruption undermines progress and unity. Furthermore, it is now a task that must be accomplished if the United Nations Objectives on the Millennium Development Goals are to have meaning at all.
For example in December 2011, some UK MP's were sent to jail for fiddling with their expenses and others are currently under investigation for corrupt practices. I am one of the few political pundits who believe that if you have strong institutions to address the issue of corruption or make some persons no matter how highly placed as examples, then corruption will be curbed or eradicated in our country.
By now, Nigerians should have risen above discussions, seminars, talkshows, and conferences on corruption as I believe there is a plethora of literature on the subject matter already. I am more inclined and determined to educate Nigerians on the provisions of the law which places high level of probity, accountability, transparency on all public office holders. But what we have in our political clime is a flagrant disregard for law, abuse of office, intimidation by public officers using the instrumentality of the state to harass and oppress the people they are meant to serve. Under the Nigerian constitution's public officers are President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governors, Permanent Secretary’s civil servants, public servants, etc. We have laws in place but we don’t have strong institutions to address the menace of corruption. The judiciary is already enmeshed in corruption and not independent enough to deal with corrupt officers.
Some serving public officers or ex-public officers are using or have used their position or the instrumentality of the state to empty the treasury, build mansions, and established business enterprises. There is much evidence on how public officers both retired or serving have assumed positions of authority to amass wealth and have done so in flagrant disregard for the law and provisions of the 5th schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
Paragraph 6'' A public officer shall not ask for or accept property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other persons or account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharged of his duties’’
6(2) For the purpose of sub paragraph 1 of this paragraph, the receipts by a public officer of any gifts, or benefits from commercial firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the government should be presumed to have been received in contravention of the said paragraph unless contrary is proven’’.
3 A public officer shall only accept personal gifts, or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasions as are recognized by custom
8(1), No person shall offer a public officer any property or gift or benefit of any kind as an inducement or bribe for the granting of favour or the discharge in his favour of public duties
9, A public officer shall not be a member or belong or take part in any society the membership of which is incompatible with the functions of his office.
11, Subject to this provision of this Constitution every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this code of conduct or immediately after taking the oaths of office and thereafter.
A. at the end of every four years
B. at the end of his term of office submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties , assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.
Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this constitution which is not fairly attributable to income, gift or loan, approved by the code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of the code
PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT:
The code of conduct prescribes punitive measures against violations of the provisions of the code of public officers. Anyone found guilty of violation are
asked to submit to the following:
a. Vacation of office or seat in any legislature
b. Disqualification from membership of a legislative house or from holding public office not exceeding ten years
c. Seizure and Forfeiture to the state of any property acquired in abuse of corruption of office.
The laws are prescribed but enforcement of it is a militating factor against eradication of corrupting in Nigeria. Where do we go from here? We need to start proffering solutions to the myriad of problems bedeviling our state. The above provisions of the law are a great weapon to be used against corrupt officers.