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Transparency International alarmed by the sudden, opaque repeal of anti-corruption act in Nigeria

Passage of the new Bill would reduce Nigeria’s anti-corruption commission to a toothless agency with no power to investigate and prosecute

Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, and Transparency in Nigeria, its national chapter in the country, urged the Nigerian National Assembly today to strengthen, and not weaken, the provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act. Speaking at a Senate-initiated public hearing on the Act today in Abuja, Transparency in Nigeria (TiN), called for the need to retain the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and in particular its powers to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.

"We strongly call on the National Assembly, if it insists on repealing the Act and enacting a new Bill, to adopt a transparent, ethical and inclusive process that allows members of the public and all stakeholders to participate fully in determining the resulting legislation," said Lilian Ekeanyanwu, Co-ordinator of Transparency in Nigeria and the Zero Corruption Coalition, a group of local NGOs. She added: "Preserving and strengthening the anti-corruption Bill will effectively signal the National Assembly's commitment to the anti-corruption campaign."

The Senate initiated the repeal of the Anti-Corruption Act on 6 February 2003. The entire process of review and amendment was shrouded in secrecy and rushed through the Senate in an unprecedented manner; public hearings were dispensed with, and house rules were suspended to accelerate the process. The legislation that emerged on 25 February strips the Anti-Corruption Commission of its pro-active powers of investigation, prosecution and forfeiture of ill-acquired assets. The Act has now moved on to the House of Representatives for review. Once passed by both chambers, the act would still have to be signed by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Transparency in Nigeria welcomed the Senate's surprise announcement on 28 February to hold a public hearing on the Act. TiN, which has been invited to make a presentation at today's hearing, hopes that this will lead to a transparent enactment process.

TiN urges Nigerian politicians not to hamstring anti-corruption efforts in order to protect their own interests and to show the necessary political will to equip the country with solid anti-corruption legislation - one of the necessary prerequisites for preventing and combating corruption.


For any press enquiries please contact

Lagos:
Lilian Ekeanyanwu, Co-ordinator
Transparency in Nigeria
Tel: + 234 803 321 6920 (mobile)
lilianekeanyanwuc@onebox.com
lilianekeanyanwu@yahoo.com

Berlin:
Jeff Lovitt, Head of Public Relations
Transparency International Secretariat
Tel: +49-30-3438 2045
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
Email: press@transparency.org