Embrace, support creation of special crime court – President Buhari

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has called on the National Assembly to fast-track the passage of the Special Crimes Court Bill.

President Buhari said this on Tuesday while opening a two-day National summit on ‘‘Diminishing Corruption in the Public Service’’ organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

The President also urged the judiciary to embrace and support the creation of the Special Crimes Court.

He said: ‘‘The fight against corruption is of course not only for government and anti-corruption agencies alone. All arms and tiers of government must develop and implement the anti-corruption measures.

‘‘I invite the legislative and judicial arms of government to embrace and support the creation of Special Crimes Court that Nigerians have been agitating for to handle corruption cases.’’

President Buhari noted that the passage of the Bill was a specific priority of the current administration’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020.

Speaking on his recent directive to all agencies of government to enrol into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the President directed ICPC to beam its searchlight on public institutions that are yet to comply.

He noted that the new directive on IPPIS was intended to halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets.

‘‘I am aware that the Commission recently conducted System Studies and Review of many MDAs to evaluate systems and processes relating to transparency and accountability in personnel and capital spending through which you successfully blocked over N9 billion from being diverted from 2019 personnel budget.

‘‘That was a proactive prevention measure. I have directed that all agencies of government must get on the IPPIS in order to eliminate the padding of personnel budgets.

‘‘I urge ICPC to beam its searchlight on all agencies yet to get on the IPPIS and our e-government platform in order to fully halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets,’’ he said.

The President also used the occasion, which marked the launch of the Constituency Projects Transparency Group (CPTG) Report Phase One, to reiterate his appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption.

‘‘The war against corruption cannot be won without prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment.

‘‘I encourage the ICPC and other law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts in public education, enlightenment and engagement with citizens.

‘‘I also urge our development partners, civil society organizations, and the media to continue to support our efforts to strengthen ethical values and integrity in Nigeria,’’ he said.

A high point of the event was President Buhari’s presentation of Integrity Award to Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Abubakar and Mrs Josephine Ugwu of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Abubakar, rejected $412,000 (N150 million) per container bribe offered to him by drug traffickers to import 40 containers laden with Tramadol.

While Ugwu, a former cleaner at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos had on different occasions returned millions of naira found in the course of her duty, including the sum of $12 million forgotten in the toilet by an airport user.

In the course of his speech at the Summit, President Buhari had stressed the need for Nigerians to uphold the traditionally cherished values of honesty and integrity.

‘‘Let me again note with concern the need to uphold the values of loyalty, honesty, trust, and integrity that were once cherished in our public service.

‘‘Ethics and integrity are the foundation of an enduring society.

‘‘Nigerian culture does not tolerate dishonesty. Therefore, we must reclaim our traditional values of honesty, integrity and hard work.

‘‘In spite of the few bad eggs, I am delighted that many Nigerians still hold on to our traditionally cherished values of honesty and integrity,” he said.