Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)
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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE ANTI-CORRUPTION STAKEHOLDERS’ FORUM FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS HOSTED BY CDHR ON TUESDAY OCTOBER 23, 2007 AT RIGHTS HOUSE, 43,ADENIYI JONES AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS
The forum, which was convened and hosted by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) at its National Secretariat was attended by representatives of Civil Society Organisations engaged in different thematic areas. They include membership based, mass based, community based, faith based, cultural, Non-Governmental, professional, and youth organisations.
After a critical appraisal of the character, nature and content of the Federal Government–driven anti-corruption campaign and the controversies surrounding the activities of anti-graft agencies in Nigeria, participants at the forum observed with conviction as follows:
- That corruption is fundamentally an economic and political question which is continuously fertilized by poverty and can only be effectively addressed by a progressive, legitimate and people-driven government.
- That the Nigerian people themselves have relentlessly stood against corruption in all its forms since the inception of the Nigerian nation and they remain vigilant and resolute in their zero tolerance for corruption.
- That the existing anti-corruption agencies like EFCC, ICPC, POLICE, CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU etc. are not independent but are tools in the hands of corrupt politicians who are both inside and outside the government machinery and are being used for corruptly persecuting political opponents as was experienced under General Obasanjo.
- That the current government–driven anti-corruption crusade is cosmetic and lacks the requisite moral authority, legitimacy and acceptability of the people of Nigeria, given the fact that the present government itself is erected on a corrupt and morally–bankrupt and illegitimate foundation since the elections that brought it into power was massively rigged.
- That because the EFCC, ICPC, POLICE, CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU and the Fix Nigeria Initiative of the EFCC are dependent on and subject to governmental control, CSOs have no confidence in them to champion genuine people-owned anti-corruption campaign.
- No miracle whatsoever should be anticipated from the ICPC, EFCC, Code of Conduct Bureau, the Police and other anti-graft agencies because their activities are selective and marred with controversies such as the contradictory concept of plea-bargaining with looters of public treasuries!
- That the International Community is paying lip service to the issues of transparency, due process and corruption in Nigeria because they are the ultimate beneficiaries of looted public wealth in Nigeria which are deliberately allowed to be lodged in their banks to boost their economy.
Mindful of the impact of corruption on the vulnerable people and deeply concerned about the need to further protect the interest of the Nigerian masses who constitute the ultimate victims of corruption, the forum resolved as follows:
- That there is urgent need for a Civil Society Initiative to energize the anti-corruption campaign and mobilize the Nigerian masses to assume ownership thereof so as to guarantee its sustenance and continuation beyond the anti-graft agencies.
- Members of the genuine and people-oriented civil society organizations should be wary in their engagement with and not turn themselves into willing instruments in the hands of the caged governmental anti-corruption agencies.
- That Civil Society intervention in the crusade against corruption must include the injection of anti-corruption issues in the different thematic areas of activism by every Civil Society Organization.
- Civil Society Lawyers must resolve to employ Strategic Impact Litigation techniques in fighting specific cases of corruption in Nigeria.
- That mass/membership based CSOs should regularly organize and execute mass–targeted programs like public rallies, symbolic walks, symposia and lectures to further deepen the conscientization of the people against corruption.
- Tertiary institutions and campuses, market platforms, trade unions, anti-graft clubs, faith platforms and so on must be mobilized as potent vanguards for sustainable anti-corruption campaign by the Civil Society.
- That the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill for effective monitoring and information dissemination on corrupt practices in the public and private institutions must be achieved.
- There is equally urgent need for the enactment of a Whistle-Blowers Act to protect members of the public and further legitimize the fight against corruption.
- Civil Society Organizations themselves must have anti-corruption mechanisms in their structures so as to demonstrate the requisite transparency and moral standing to fight corruption in Nigeria.
- Only a legitimate, democratic and progressive people-driven government can guarantee a successful anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria; this calls for the formation of a progressive mass based political party that will wrestle political power from the corrupt ruling class in Nigeria.
Participants therefore called on the Nigerian people to rise up, take their destiny in their hands and insist on Zero-Tolerance for corruption especially in government.
Participants unanimously adopted this communiqué and commended the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) for hosting the meeting and urged it not to relent in the deployment of its structures nationwide for the anti-corruption crusade and protection of the interest of the masses of Nigeria.
Com. Seyi Olubanjo Barr.Malachy Ugwumadu
Chairman, Communique General Secretary, CDHR
BARR. OLASUPO OJO