For President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption to succeed he must reform the judiciary, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu has declared.
Odinkalu, in a lecture he delivered in Abuja on integrity and accountability as pillars of national development at the second Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) Annual Colloquium, said that despite proliferation of anti-corruption agencies, grafts continued to be on the increase. According to him, there was a time in Nigeria when public integrity institutions were just three: the police, civil service and the judiciary.
“Many would argue that public values were better then and these institutions performed stronger.
“Today, there is a formidable alphabet-soup of anti-corruption and public integrity agencies, which includes the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR); Intelligence and security agencies created by the National Security Agencies Act (SSS, DMI, DIA, DMI), Budget Office, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR); Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB); the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Federal Ministries of Finance; Justice; and of Foreign Affairs; the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC); the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); NAPTIP; NDLEA; NEITI; the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF); the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF); the Public Complaints Commission; and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“Indeed, there is now an Inter-Agency Task Team of Anti-Corruption. To this, we can now add a Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACA).”
He noted that the distribution of functional competence among these multiple agencies was often overlapping, confused, and confounding. He also called for the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. Public institutions, he said, should proactively disclose certain information as stipulated by law.
He said: “We must address the judiciary and make it more accountable as a branch of government in both appointments and its jurisprudence. “In the last quarter of a century, the judiciary has become a sinecure, part of the retinue of patronage in public life.
“Almost invariably, the path to judicial office now begins in the civil service and appointment to the Bench is increasingly viewed as part of the promotion structure in the civil service significantly dis-entangled from any rigorous considerations of integrity, professionalism, merit, values and temperament.
Culled from THISDAY