The Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption (PACAC) and President Muhammadu Buhari's appointee as chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanye, has said that Nigerians have the duty to report crimes and corrupt activities around them, stating that failure to do would amount to disregard for the law.
Mr. Owasanye said this while delivering an address at the ‘Tracking Noxious Funds’ conference held at the Shoregate Hotels in Ikeja, Lagos.
The conference, which has facilitators from Kent Law School at the University of Kent, and sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation with the Institute of International Education (IIE), had Mr. Owasanye talking about ‘Law and Practices of the Whistle Blower Policy of Nigeria; Scope of Citizen’s Participation’.
In his address, he said the citizens have the responsibility to hold the government accountable and to put pressure on government officials so that they will always do the right things.
“Citizens have a duty to report crimes. If citizens don’t report crimes, law enforcement agencies cannot do their job very well because they need the information the people have. The duty is both moral and legal. It enhances rule of law. It enhances security,” said Mr. Owasanye.
He went further to state that corruption is the cause of many of the social and economic challenges Nigeria is currently facing. Hence, he opined that the people must join the government in fighting corruption because the government cannot combat the challenge alone.
He said; “The public has a duty to constantly put pressure on the government. Every government all over the word is compromised. If you report someone who is very far to the seat of power, quick action will be taken. If you report someone who is very close to the seat of power, there will be dilatory tactics. It is the public pressure that will make sure that something happens.”
He cited some provisions that empower the people in acting as whistleblowers; “the ICPC Act section 23, Code of Corporate Governance for Banks, Investment and Security Act of 2007 (section 26(3), Terrorism Prevention Act (Section 14 (1), Public Procurement Act 13 (b)(2), Government Regulation 409.”
Mr. Owasanye reiterated that any citizen that shields wrongdoings and criminal activities is breaking the law and obstructing law enforcement agencies from carrying out their responsibilities. Adding that without the whistleblower policy, Nigerians have the statutory responsibility to report crimes.
The Executive Secretary of PACAC said if citizens refuse to play their constitutional role, they further weaken an already weak state and rule of law.
He also took a swipe at the former government led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP, accusing it of wasteful spending and embezzlement of public funds.
He said; “Nigeria’s recession is one that has been corruption provoked because we did not save for the raining days. The money that was earned when things were going well was virtually stolen. We also see that corruption pushed and escalated insurgencies in Nigeria."
He said the Buhari led government has shown the political will to fight corruption and called for Nigerians’ support.