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Prioritise whistleblowing, audit legislations – CSOs urge NASS

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The leadership and members of the National Assembly (NASS) have been urged to prioritise enacting legislation to protect whistleblowers and a new audit law.

Setting an anti-corruption agenda for federal legislators, Civil Society Organisations, the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) also warned lawmakers against efforts to “whittle down the powers of anti-graft agencies”.

During an anti-corruption radio programme, Public Conscience on Wednesday in Abuja, PLAC’s Programme Manager on Gender and Policy, Nkiru Uzodi said that for financial corruption in the public sector to reduce, “members of the National Assembly must see to the reintroduction and passage into law of the Audit Bill that was unsuccessful in the ninth Assembly”.

Uzodi called on the Assembly to exploit preventive measures to curb corrupt acts while condemning efforts of the ninth NASS to amend and reduce the powers of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). She added that factors limiting some lawmakers over the years from taking on corruption headlong is the lack of character, competence and capacity.

“Federal lawmakers have to look at strengthening anti-corruption watchdogs and strengthen their laws. There is a Federal audit bill that has been outstanding that is supposed to reinforce public audit and enhance the work of the public accounts committee in the fight against corruption.

“They (NASS) need to revisit conversations about establishing special courts to fight corruption; in the 9th Assembly, the attempt to amend the ICPC Act was wrong and would further reduce the effectiveness of the anti-corruption body”, Uzodi stressed.

She, however, knocked the current Assembly for reportedly allocating N40 billion to buy 465 Sports Utility Vehicles and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials.

While setting an anti-corruption agenda for the 10th Assembly, PRIMORG’s Programme Manager, Dr. Adaobi Obiabunmuo called on the lawmakers to leverage the Auditor General’s report to fight corruption while strengthening whistleblowing and whistleblower protection in the country.

She said: “The National Assembly has three main functions, which are representation, oversight and lawmaking. We want them to oversight properly.

“If there are allegations, the National Assembly should be able to weigh in and investigate. They should get the appropriate authorities to prosecute. As much as we want them to oversee all MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), they should be accountable and transparent.

“Journalists with the constitutional mandate to blow the whistle against corruption should also be protected. They should not be gagged by the instruments of the law and security agencies”, Obiabunmuo argued.

Former Akwa Ibom State governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas are the presidents of the Senate and the Speaker House of Representatives, respectively.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio programme PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

It has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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