Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), has challenged lawyers from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to tackle corruption in the judiciary .
According to a press release released by the Commission on Monday, the ICPC boss made this known during the NBA conference held recently in Lagos.
He said the NBA and association members should play a central role in fighting corruption in the justice system.
The head of the ICPC, who denounced the corrupt practices of members of the legal profession, advised the management of the NBA to act quickly and to sanction members of the profession involved in corrupt practices.
According to him, the intermediary role played by some lawyers for suspects involved in cases of corruption, money laundering and illicit financial flows (IFF) is unethical.
He said: ‘In one of the Commission’s investigations, we traced the money to a lawyer’s account. When we got to the account, the money had further been transferred to numerous accounts in an effort to frustrate the investigation. These lawyers are agents of money launderers and they undermine the legal profession.
“In addition, some lawyers are engaged in paying bribes to file cases in court or to collect receipts. Lawyers must dare to speak out and challenge the status quo and reinvigorate the fight against corruption and money laundering.
The SAN has also expressed deep concern over orders granted by the courts to lawyers preventing anti-corruption agencies from investigating and making arrests.
In his words: “Courts are now used to issuing orders preventing anti-corruption agencies from investigating and making arrests. The biggest culprits are seasoned attorneys and it’s unfortunate the NBA isn’t doing anything about it. »
He added that “the NBA has shown some promise, but that promise must be delivered and the Association must act quickly to save the legal profession and prevent its denigration.”
The head of CIPC, while assessing the link between corruption, insecurity and poor governance, explained that the provision of essential infrastructure, security, education, health and food are the immediate victims of the corruption.
He said: “A single transaction of misappropriation of huge sums could have an immediate impact that could become irreversible or more difficult and costly to reverse, while a small misappropriation of budget or misallocation of resources might have no impact. immediate impact but will inevitably have an impact in the medium and long term. .
“Many shadow projects are included and also duplicated in the budget each year. The CIPC unpacks the budget each year once it is adopted by the National Assembly. The Commission was able to stop the duplication of projects in the budget amounting to billions of naira.
According to Owasanoye, two units – Constituency and Executive Project Monitoring and System Study and Review were established by ICPC as part of measures to uncover the root causes of corruption in the public sector and fight them head on.
He added that the Commission was collaborating with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
He said it was about enabling the use of modern technology to help fight corruption and illicit financial flows.