- The Civil Society and media strategy meeting on Lingering High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria took place from the 5th to 6th May 2016 at Roban Hotel, Enugu, Enugu State. with over forty stakeholder in attendance.
- The meeting was organized by Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) with support from Justice for All (J4A), a Department for International Development (DFID) programme, for the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria.
- The strategy meeting is aimed at reactivating high profile corruption cases that are either stalled for political reasons, executive interference and possibly judicial collusion. Specific objectives of the meeting include:
- refocusing attention on seemingly hibernating high profile corruption cases,
- reducing cost of fighting corruption by ensuring that cases are concluded timely
- reviewing strategies to ensure that adequate citizens attention through CSOs and Media publicity is put on high profile cases until they are properly determined, and
- To identify impediments to the effective adjudication of high profile corruption cases, key corruption vulnerabilities in the process and proffer recommendations/strategies of quick disposals of these cases.
- The meeting evaluated the critical role of the Media and CSOs in mobilizing citizens and unearthing unresolved high profile corruption cases in Nigeria, and advocated for collaboration between the media and CSOs to keep the momentum high on the cases (high profile corruption cases that have been charged to various courts but have gone to hibernation).
- It identified the need of developing a platform for sensitizing and creating awareness on the evil of corruption in our societies. The meeting agreed to harness already existing local platforms while creating new one(s) where none exists.
- The meeting commended the policy of President Muhammad Buhari to fight and end corruption in Nigeria and called on him not to ignore high profile cases that his regime inherited. They noted that such effort will generate maximum citizens support if the fight to end corruption and reposition Nigeria does not include quick conclusion of outstanding corruption court cases that have lingered so long and are now part of what the present regime inherited. One of the ways of demonstrating how bad the past was, is to conclude those high profile cases that involved over 20 past governors, ex- legislators, and public officials, some of whom have found their way back to power.
- The stakeholders promised to support any effort by the current regime to conclude lingering high profile corruption cases in Nigeria on or before the end of 2016.
- Participants x-rayed the capacity of the Anti Corruption Agencies to conclude cases quickly and expressed dissatisfaction with the level of progress in the prosecution of high profile corruption cases. The meeting specifically called on EFCC and ICPC to use the new legal environment brought by the Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as skills they have received from different development experts to conclude all pending high profile cases before the administration of President Mohammad Buhari, on or before the end of 2016.
- The meeting also called on the regime of President Muhammad Buhari to make the conclusion of high profile cases, which his regime inherited, top priority and as a motivating foundation for his renewed anti corruption effort to mobilize citizens.
- The meeting advised participants to collaborate with other Media organizations, CSOs and professional associations in following up unresolved corruption cases in order to avoid their intervention being misconstrued as being taken as personal and to avoid being targets of attack.
- Participants also agreed on the need for CSOs and Media to extend its partnership by approaching Anti Corruption Agencies for collaboration towards quick resolution of the high profile corruption cases.
- The meeting called for engagement between CSOs, the Media and Anti Corruption Agencies for proper understanding, collaboration, information and knowledge sharing, and involvement in the administration of justice on the corrupt persons so that such cases should be monitored and followed through to a logical conclusion.
- Participants agreed to develop feedback and support mechanism to enhance institutional performance of Anti Corruption Agencies and other state institutions responsible for the fight against corruption.
- Participants express worry that Anti Corruption Agencies giving cases more media attention that they get conviction or judgments. They urged Anti-corruption Agencies to publicized concluded cases than new cases as such publicity will serve as deterrent to public office holders. Keeping old cases in the cooler and sensationalizing new ones is not a convincing strategy that will propel Nigerians to provide them with all supports that are required.
- That will unearthing new corruption cases, it is easier to conclude ongoing cases which will send a signal of a serious government not ready to pamper corrupt people during court processes.
- Allowing corruption cases to linger for over 2 years (as some of the have lingered for over 10 years) is a motivation for corruption as prospective public resources looters are encouraged by the strategy of keeping corruption cases unending in Nigeria. As corruption cases linger, the cost of justice becomes unnecessarily exorbitant to both the nation and the accused persons.
- The meeting identified the need to review the performance of prosecuting councils for Anti corruption Agencies as it was observed that majority of lingering cases are being handled by just one or two lawyers who may not put in adequate time and energy required to speedily conclude the cases. They therefore called on Anti Corruption Agencies to tell Nigerians how much they have spent in the last ten years on high profile cases and use the conviction generated to justify their expenditure.
- The participants concluded that everything must be done to bring Nigerians together to fight corruption instead of leaving it to the administration alone.
Signed on behalf of Participants
Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights
Civil Society Network against Corruption (CSNAC)
Lagos State, Nigeria
League of Awareness- Benin
Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy
African Centre for Human Advancement and Resources Support
Neighborhood Initiative for Women Advance (NIWA)