The Oyo State House of Assembly yesterday held a public hearing on the Oyo State Anti – Corruption Agency Bill, 2019 proposed by Governer Seyi Makinde.
Speaking with journalists after the public hearing,the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Finance and Appropriation, Hon. Kehinde Olatunde, said the establishment of the anti-graft agency became necessary,saying the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are overburdened with too many cases.
The lawmaker noted that the anti – corruption bill was to ensure probity, transparency, accountability, and prudence in the management of public funds by managers in various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The lawmaker said:”We need another anti-graft agency because of EFCC and ICPC are overburdened and they cannot get to the grassroots. They have too much work. Some cases are still pending with the agencies. This is why we need our own agency to bring efficiency to the fight against corruption. The state agency will get to the grassroots. We know one another very well. Also, it is to bring transparency. Governor Seyi Makinde wants transparency that is why he said he didn’t mind waivering his immunity to be the first to appear before the agency if need be”.
The parliamentarian who represents Akinyele state constituency 1 added that periodic public hearing of activities of the Assembly shows a clear demonstration of the visionary ideology of the Assembly.
In his remark, the Honourable Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin maintained that the anti-graft agency would be a replica of Federal Anti – Corruption Agencies such as the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC).
Ogundoyin added that the action of Governor Makinde to establish the agency at the state level is highly commendable.
Various groups and associations which submitted memoranda at the hearing were unanimous that the establishment of the agency was imperative.
While presenting their memorandum, the representative of ICPC, Mrs. Adeoluwa, said the commission supported the initiative, adding that the Constitution of the country enables a state to abolish any means of corruption in its jurisdiction.
ICPC added that the agency should not restrict its activities to Public Offices alone but to private individuals and firms.
She also charged the agency to create more room for confidentiality in identity of personnel and whistle blowers to aid their safety and job security.
Speaking with pressmen at the event, the chairman Code Of Conduct Bureau, Mr Moses O Atolagbe emphasized that Fighting corruption at the various levels of governance is a good ideas but when you look at what will become of it later, knowing fully we already have existing one that we can take advantage of and use. For example, you might have an administration that you may decide not to fund that agency for whatever obvious reasons, that’s why effort should be concentrated on preventive measure, to look at what are the measure we can put in place to prevent corruption and corrupt practices in the public services, orientation, putting a lot of mechanism that at various level.
When corruption are taking place, you spend a lot of money on hiring lawyer and investigation, it expensive but you could save cost. But majorly we can put system in place to check corruption at various level of governance. So, far away from that, there’s need to also look at the memorandum of all together. Good as the intention maybe, it depends on sustainability, after that you have put in place, will that tempo be sustained? But when you have a lot of preventive measure in place, that’s looks and sounds better.
But what we are looking at is funding, If you say donations fund, which sector? If you have donation from outside better. But if a contractor comes and says I support anti-corruption and am put in this amount of money, don’t forget that there’s been an issue that some of it should come directly from the judiciary to avoid state interference in the appointment of those that would be members of the committee.
When you have state interference appointing chairman or secretary, then it’s under the control of the state governor and whatever happened thereafter, depends on who is heading the state.
While asking him if anti-graft eventually established, is it going to enjoy the same jurisdiction as the national anti-graft agency, he said, is an effort to fight corruption at that level and is going to be funded by state and whatever to put in place. So, is good intention. but I have some fair about what would happened to it thereafter.
Representing the Nigeria Police Force, SP Funke Fawole from the Legal Department, Iyaganku, State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) submitted that the Chairman of the Agency should be appointed by the state governor after an earlier approval of the House of Assembly.
She added that the Chairman should not assume office until he or she declares his/her assets at the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Police stressed the need for the creation of a head office and branches in all the 33 local governments of the state.
Contributing, the Auditor-General of the state urged the agency to organise a public enlightenment to sensitise people on the roles and activities of the Agency.