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Lawan berates Nigerian banks for aiding sustained corruption in civil service

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Lawan berates Nigerian banks for aiding sustained corruption in civil service

By Sunday Joseph


The President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan has taken a swipe at Nigerian Banks for aiding and abetting corruption through shady deals they engage with civil servants to open multiple unauthorised bank accounts for Government agencies.

Lawan Spoke yesterday when the leadership of the chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria led by its protem National President Dr. Victoria Aishatu Enape paid him a courtesy visit.

The Senate President challenged the anti graft agencies like EFCC to also turn their search lights on the banks to stop such graft in the private sector.

“It is not only in government agencies that we have this kind of attitude, even in private organizations. “So our anti-corruption agencies should go beyond looking at what the government agencies are doing, they should also look at what our banks are doing. “Some of these banks, I don’t have figures or names, a lot of times we have placed implicit trust in them but money are diverted and accounts that have no approval of the Accountant General to be opened will be operated.” Continuing he said before the introduction of TSA, they were told stories of hundreds of bank accounts operated by some agencies. “But of course we know the limit the Accountant-General of the Federation has approved for agencies of government to operate.” He recalled the experience of the National Assembly recently that has shown that the revenue generating agencies of government, collect revenues but not all the revenues are remitted to the appropriate account of government.  “We believe that we can do better if we deploy technology in the collection and transmission of the revenues. “That is why the Federal Inland Revenue Service has received complete support from the National Assembly to become more digital in the area of collection of revenues so that we limit leakages and embezzlement that some officers would try to engage in. 
“It is a very reasonable route, as it is consistent with the new age of technology, where devices are replacing humans in social, economic, or business relations. “We have been on the path of increasing the use of technology, but we still have to do more.”According to him, the malaise of corruption is deep-seated, needing concerted efforts to tame, and so efforts at Nation building should be continuous with all hands being on deck to achieve this success. “I therefore commend the front from which you are operating, and I encourage you not to relent.”Again Lawan said it is not only the quantum of money, resources or revenues that a country has that can make it perform in a area of infrastructural development. “It is how efficient, economic, prudent and how effective you are able to deploy those resources. We once had a lot of  resources in this country and yet the bulk of it went into private pockets and therefore we could achieve very little. “Today we have little and can achieve much because genuine fear has gripped everyone that if you embezzle or steal,  the law will catch up with you. Our Chairman of the anti-corruption Committee is here, what is the slogan of the EFCC? ‘Wherever you are we will get you’. “So there is that fear and therefore those who try to take advantage of the system are much more careful even those you can still find those who can say no matter what let me try. “Of course, that will always be at the back of the mind of every one. So we are using the resources much more effectively than when we had more. “I believe that if we can have more revenues, we can achieve more. It is practical because the (Bill) seeks to provide skills to relevant professionals on the use of science and technology to prevent, detect and investigate corruption. “It also envisages mechanisms against re-occurrence. I used the word prevent first before detect and investigate. Whenever and wherever we want to fight corruption, we must ensure that we emphasise on prevention because corruption has been in existence maybe as old as when human beings  started to live on earth.”He indicated that people will always try to take advantage of the system adding that the important thing is the emphasis on how to prevent it and make it difficult for Civil Servants especially.”I am sorry to say that, those who are entrusted with public funds to have an undue access and opportunity to divert public funds. “We have to prevent it because some believe that if they try they can get away with it and the best way to deal with this is to make it difficult and where possible impossible to access public funds for personal use. “This anti-corruption framework can enhance the prosecution and sanctioning process. We have emphasized prevention as a good route to reducing corruption, given the tendency of individuals to exploit weaknesses in systems. People are more likely to take advantage of loopholes than they can create it.”Technologies are additionally expected to reduce loopholes, because of their sophistication, the skills required, and for the fact that they are structured. Effective usage also requires time to establish.  “Using technologies therefore limits, or prevents the chances of infractions, and eventually saves prosecutorial time and resources.” According to him, many countries have reduced corruption through science and technology for their ability to limit human interaction and then ensure that operations are strictly procedural. He thanked the institute for the conferment of the role of patron and congratulated them for their doggedness and patience, which is the hallmark of accounting.
Lawan advised all groups to ensure that public and private funds are properly accounted for.
He warned civil servants who are interested in public funds in order to divert it that the law will catch up with them.
The institute had earlier inducted the Senate President as its patron.The protem president Dr. Mrs aishatu Enape in her speech had reminded Lawan that he initiated the bill as senate leader during the eight senate adding that it was passed but did not get the presidential assent.Dr. Enape counted it a privilege to associate with the Senate president considering his outstanding public record, unblemished anti corruption credentials in the national Assembly.
The leadership of the institute expressed gratitude to the president of the Senate for accepting the path of fighting corruption and cybercrime in Nigeria.

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Legislature

Senate moves to tackle illicit arms trade in Nigeria

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Senate moves to tackle illicit arms trade in Nigeria

**says weapons proliferation cause of violence, insecurity

In a bid to tackle the illegal importation and trade in small arms and light weapons in Nigeria the Senate has considered a critical bill.

The bill; the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons bill scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday
Sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North) the piece of legislation among other things seeks to: identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunitions and light weapons; establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organizations with the aim of tackling the menace.
It also aim to train and build the capacity of the corps towards and enforcement of this mandate.

The lawmaker added that when passed into law, the bill would put in place machineries such as the the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to combat illegal importation of arms; and enhance harmonization of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the Intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies. 

He recalled that the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) organized in 2019 in Abuja by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), revealed that Nigeria hosts 350 million or 70 percent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa. 

“Small Arms and Light Weapons are readily available, easy to use and have been the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society. 

“These Weapons of Terror are in the hand of irregular troops operating with scant respect for international and humanitarian law, they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 percent of the casualties. 

“In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge. There is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms. 

“The UN estimated that of the most substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria. This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram terrorist operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity,” the Senate Leader said. 

The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to give legal backing to the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba, also scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday. 

Sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC – Kogi West), the bill among others seeks to develop and enable the institution to offer academic and professional programmes; and train agriculturists with capabilities of exploiting existing Agro infrastructure and improve on it to develop new ones. 

The bill after scaling second reading was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, chaired by Senator Ahmad Baba-Kaita (APC – Katsina North). 

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INEC: Senate panel screens Prof Yakubu Thursday

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INEC: Senate panel screens Prof Yakubu Thursday

The Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ), has slated the screening of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Commission for another five year tenure in office for Thursday by 2:00pm .

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya ( APC Kano South), informed Journalists of the planned screening exercise after submission of the report of 2021 budget estimates of the commission to the Senate Committee on Appropriation .

Senator Gaya in the interview said since the Senate has given the committee, Tuesday next week for submission of report on screening of the re-appointed INEC Chairman and nomination of Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru from Kebbi State as National Commissioner , the exercise will be expeditiously carried out .
“By giving the assignment expeditious consideration, the committee has slated Thursday, 26th November, 2020 for the screening exercise .

“Precisely the re-nominated Chairman of the Commission , Professor Mahmood Yakubu is to face our committee by 2:00 pm for the required drilling , the outcome of which will determine the report to be submitted to the Senate on Tuesday. ” He said .

Earlier while submitting the report on the 2021 budget proposals made for the commission to the Senator Jibrin Barau led Appropriation Committee, Senator Gaya informed the Committee that N550million was added to the proposals submitted to address acute housing and office accommodation facing the commission .

When the Chairman of the committee, Jibrin Barau along with the Deputy Chairman, Senator Stella Oduah asked Gaya where the N550million is to be sourced from? He said  it would be taken from outstanding balance of monies appropriated for the commission  in 2020.

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Legislature

NASS worries over public misconception of legislature

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NASS worries over public misconception of legislature

The National Assembly has expressed concern that the functions of the Legislature are grossly misunderstood by the general public leading to its underfunding.
It would be recalled that the senate President had also challenged Nigerians to a debate on the relevance of the national Assembly even as he queried the executive on the criteria for setting aside paltry N128b as its 2021 budget which he said is less than 1% of the N13tr national budget.
This was contained in a communique that was jointly signed by executive chairman NASC Engineer Ahmed K. Amshi, DG NILDS Professor Abubakar Sulaiman and the CNA Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos and issued at the end of the retreat that took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja over the weekend.
The communique indicate that it is imperative to recognize the uniqueness of the legislative environment and develop modalities to better serve the Lawmakers.
To this end it said, “It is necessary to ensure that the powers of the Clerk to the National Assembly as enshrined in Section 51 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as the Chief Executive & Accounting Officer)
and the Powers of the National Assembly Service Commission as given in the Enabling Act are not undermined.

The communique also harped on the relevance and contribution of the Staff Union in the National Assembly Service which makes it imperative to continuously interface and dialogue with the association to resolve grey areas that might arise from time to time.
“There should be regular engagements between the National Assembly
Service Commission, the National Assembly Management on one hand, and the National Assembly Leadership on the other hand.
“There should be greater synergy between the National Assembly Service Commission, the National Assembly Management and the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies in providing support services to the legislature.”
“All stakeholders in the Bureaucracy of the National Assembly should continuously ensure meaningful balance between politics and administration.”
It commended
the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, CON and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila for their support, encouragement and commitment to effective service delivery.
The retreat which was organised for members of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) and top management of the national assembly had the theme:  “Issues, Challenges and Prospects in the Legislative Bureaucracy”.
The retreat received papers and expert submissions on the “Appraising the mandates of the National Assembly Service Commission and the National Assembly Management”; “Strengthening National Assembly Service Commission and National Assembly Relationship”; “Managing the Political Leadership of the National Assembly”; and “Strategies for Effective Collaboration between the National Assembly Service Commission and the National Assembly”.

It emphasized the centrality of a cordial, consultative and result-oriented relationship as basis for attaining the mandates of NASS and NASC.
It also recognized that the current size of Legislative Aides which stands at five Aides per Legislator, is inadequate for the proper functioning of the Legislators.

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