The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called for laws that will prevent corruption.
Its president Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) expressed “grave concern” that the anti-corruption crusade seems to focus on fighting corruption after it has occurred.
To him, not much attention is paid to preventive measures with a view to minimising the incidence of corruption.
“We strongly believe that prevention must equally be robust and effective. The current system is not sufficiently robust to prevent corruption from occurring within the public service system.
“We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to initiate measures that seek to prevent corruption from occurring, in addition to the fight after corruption has occurred.
“The NBA calls on the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly to utilise their immense legislative powers, not only to strengthen existing anti-corruption laws and institutions, but also to consider the enactment of new anti-corruption laws in Nigeria that will be prevention focused,” Mahmoud stated.
Accoding to him, ant-graft agencies need institutional and structural reforms to make them more efficient.
Mahmoud, who spoke in Lagos at a forum to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, believed that unless there were institutional and structural changes in the laws establishing the anti-corruption agencies, desired result would not be achieved.
Mahmoud said: “It is regrettable that in spite of all the efforts against corruption, Nigeria is still rated very low in the annual anti-corruption index of Transparency International.
“We observe that although the Federal Government has established anti-corruption agencies, these institutions are bedeviled by certain institutional and structural constraints.
“In view of the fact that anti-corruption crusade is part of our public interest programme especially at the Bar and Bench, the NBA calls for urgent structural, legal and institutional reforms of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for more effectiveness and efficiency.”
NBA praised efforts to fight corruption, noting that the legal and institutional frameworks be strenghtened.
“To combat corruption successfully, a combination of strong legal and ethical frameworks and the presence of effective institutions are important for success.
“We further recommend that the mechanisms for investigation and prosecution against corruption must be restructured and strengthened,” he said.
Mahmoud restated NBA’s commitment to the fight against corruption, especially in the judiciary.
He said only an independent Judiciary can fight corruption.
“We call upon the Federal Government to ensure that adequate funds are allocated to the Judiciary as it prepares to present the 2017 appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
“It is expected that adequate funding will contribute to independence of the judiciary and reduce the incidence of judicial corruption.
“With regards to the Bar, the Nigerian Bar association shall spare no effort in weeding out corrupt lawyers in the legal profession through diverse means including our disciplinary mechanism,” he said.
He said erring lawyers would be disbarred in a bid to “make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers.”
Source : The Nation