Judge call on Nigerians to demand accountability from their leaders

Whatapp News

LAGOS – Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division, on Tuesday called on Nigerians to demand accountability from their leaders from the three tiers of government.
Oyewole said this in Lagos at a media roundtable on, ‘`How the Federal Government can prevent and combat corruption in the operation of the Local Government Joint Account’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roundtable was organised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The judge said corruption was the greatest challenge to the existence of Nigeria, noting that it had permeated all aspects of our national life.
He said the local government system had failed to perform its constitutional duty to provide basic social amenities and services to the citizenry due to corruption.
“For us to combat corruption in this country; we must make two keywords our mantra and they are : transparency and accountability.
“It is not the duty of the government alone. For us as citizens, we must continue to ask questions and demand accountability from our leaders,” Oyewole said.
He said corruption was thriving in Nigeria because the perpetrators were enjoying the proceeds from their crimes due to lack of diligent prosecution.
According to him, it is the responsibility of Nigerians, particularly the media, to ask questions on why some high-profile corruption cases are terminated for technical reasons.
Oyewole said:”Whether we still want corrupt people to live among us depends on us. Our society must move on and we must stop being comfortable with people taking turns to pillage our resources.
“The `Whistle-blowers’ Act has been passed into law and it is our duty as citizens to report acts of corruption by public officials.’’
Also speaking, Prof. Alex Gboyega, a former Head of Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, commended President Muhammad Buhari for showing commitment to tackle corruption at the local government level.
Gboyega, however, noted that constitutional challenges could impede the president’s objective because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 which restricted the interference of the Federal Government in local government affairs.
“Buhari has voted for sanitising financial management at the local government but it is going to be very complex.
“Nigeria is operating a federation and the federating parties are the states and the federal government. The local government is not mentioned at all.
“The day-to-day running of the local governments falls within the powers of their state governments,” he said.
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According to him, since 1999, virtually all states in Nigeria have been systematically encroaching on the revenue of their councils.
The don also faulted the refusal of some states to conduct local government elections, stressing that this had led to the loss of confidence in the local government system.
He, therefore, called for the amendment of the constitution to make it mandatory that only democratically elected local governments could have access to the state and local government joint accounts.
Gboyega further advocated regular audit of local government accounts as well as strengthening of Nigeria’s anti-corruption institutions to tackle the problem.
Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, SERAP, in his welcome address, said the roundtable was a continuation of the organisation’s drive for transparency and prudent management of the country’s resources. (NAN)
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