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Date Published: 05/04/10

COULD SCARY ANTI-CURRUPTION LAWS, FINALLY SAFEGUARD THE NIGERIAN TREASURY By John Egbeazien Oshodi

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The last week of April of 2010 will be remembered for its truth telling expressions. It is a period when two great public officials in high level national and sensitive positions would by way of frustration or speculation signal to the Nigerian masses how nationally damaging corruption has become.

The Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Professor Attahiru Jega specifically judged the country as currently in a disabled state as a result of  a public leadership marked with corruptible  hands. Dr. Jega calls for strong public support for the anti-corruption  agencies  in their daily legal battle against those that are illegally sucking the people’s money for their own personal and selfish use.

Lawyer (Mrs.) Farida Waziri, a law enforcement expert, the national prosecutor and the current head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , in a professional but  definitive way opined that only extreme and  stiff legal consequences could in a lasting way, reduce corruption in leadership and deter acts of corruption  now, and in the future. 

There is no doubt that most Nigerians would agree that the central enemy in the country is corruption and the fight against this cancerous societal tumor has been overwhelming for everyone. No day passes without another distressful news about bribery in the millions, both in naira, pounds or dollars. This goes on and on with no apparent ending, good lord!     

So what else could be done? This is a good time to raise more questions as they relate to putting fear in the minds and hearts of the would-be-corrupt officials.

The National Assembly is said to be reconstructing and updating the Constitution, hopefully with open, strong and penetrating input from the public as they are the ultimate bearers of the symptoms of the chronic and current disease of economic terror, corruption especially.

The masses should actively become involved in this process by sending load of verbal pressures to the lawmakers. This could be done through multiple and peaceful writings, letters, telephone calls, email, and non-violent visits to the offices of their local, state and federal law makers.

At this time, what are needed are anti-corruption legislations with swift and powerful phrases, amendments and clauses that could come within the updated Constitution. And the anti-corruption laws should contain different levels of sanctions customized according to the degree of the fraud, bribery or corruption.

It is now a reality that many in the ruling class across the government and corporate environments have made the nation a class ‘A’ corruption-driven society. And compared to other societies, the psychology of bribery is pronouncedly rampant, open, habitual, focused, dicey, passionate, engaging, and even developmental as it has become systematic and almost lifelong in pattern.

If truth be told since 2004 and to this present day the anti-corruption works, under the respective leadership of Nuhu Ribadu and  Farida Waziri have been massive but not enough to permanently drive fear into  or silence the heads of the bad elements of the society. Also, the multiple anti-justice forces that remain lively within and across different areas of public and private works continue to enlarge. These forces of bribery will not give up easily. 

These vicious operations are countless, and occur within the likes of the bedroom, latrine,classroom, parlor, place of worship, ward, clinic, hospital, highway, morgue, office, housing, airport, bathroom, business, council, police station, courtroom, and other multiple settings.

The intractable nature of pro-bribery mentality and the pervasive arrangement of corruption have left the country in a state of gross inequality in terms of basic needs and public benefits.

Certainly, no reasonable person is calling for a violent uprising or a collective attack on the officially corrupt. No one is saying ‘O, Boy or O, Girl’ go find a band of official or known corrupt individuals, and illegally kill every one of them.   There are other reactive methods of disapproval, such as targeted and highly organized non violent forms of protest available.

Anti-corruption legislations that are culturally appropriate to the people’s diverse way of existence are what the society needs now. 

Constitutionally, Nigeria have both the civil laws  and the Sharia laws and  a variety of courts react to various misconducts in terms of what type of punitive and retributive justice to give out.

The Nigerian society and the citizens are generally aware of such legal penalties toward major acts of theft, like medically supervised amputation, partial blindness and others, which are not uncommon in states like Zamfara, and Katsina, the President’s home State. 

Also the civil law aspect of the Nigerian Constitution already has the death sentence clause for certain offenses. 

Especially, it is worth noting that in the northern states that rely heavily on aggravating-type verdicts and rulings, there have been results with high deterring or valuable outcomes. In most cases ,strong signals have been sent to an offender. 

So along with these assumptive lines of anti-corruption proposals, should be the need to start the immediate study of penalties like death sentence, amputation, blindness and other swift or hard core measures. And if they end up as part of the new Constitution, each of these sentences should be compassionately done, non-gruesome in procedure and fully supervised by a competent clinician.

China, Nigeria’s economic global big brother already have a death penalty system for some special fraudulent offenses, so there’s a good chance that China could  serve as a good study and role model.  

Let’s hope that those with highly corruptible spirit, eyes, legs, and hands could come to the reality that the already noted sanctions have everlasting grave consequences. As such, these type of sanctions could slow down their high level and powerful social living.

By their own positive actions towards themselves and the people, the Human Rights advocates could become successful in defeating any of these yet to come or future hard core anti-corruption legislative suppositions. So let us all do the right thing or these proposals will be here soon.

John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, DABPS,FACFE, is a practicing Forensic/Clinical Psychologist, and an Interim Dean of Behavioral Science at the Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. joshodi@broward.edu 

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