350 views | Stanley Ugagbe | June 8, 2021
The Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) has pitched tent with the United Nations over the recent moves to halt corruption across the globe.
According to the body, in a statement by its founder and team lead, Princess Hamman-Obels, the Assembly had on June 2nd to 4th 2021 convened a special session on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation.
The statement clarified that the aim of this session was to galvanize the political will of governments and the international community in fighting corruption, identify solutions to common challenges in preventing and combating corruption, and contribute to implementing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by, inter alia, sharing best practices and lessons learned.
It said during the session, a high-level action-oriented political declaration, agreed upon in advance by the decision-making body of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the UNCAC, was adopted by the Assembly.
The declaration provides blueprints to help countries tackle bribery, money laundering, abuse of power and other related crimes.
It should be noted that ratification, implementation, and monitoring of the declaration lies with the UNCAC Coalition, which is a coalition and global network of over 350 civil society organizations (CSOs) consisting of member organizations, individual members and affiliated groups and organizations.Nigeria is a member country of the UNCAC Coalition with seven-member organizations and eight affiliated groups and organizations.
The statement further revealed that in addition to the special session against corruption, 40 virtual side events were held starting June 1st with agenda ranging from health sector, gender equality, whistleblower protection and the launch of the Globe Network (an initiative for efficient cross-border cooperation in ending corruption). 850 young people from 122 countries gathered for a virtual meeting from 24th to 26th May to discuss issues on how corruption affects young people.
“As its contribution to the structure and substance of the draft political declaration to be adopted by the General Assembly during the special session, Nigeria submitted a communiqué recommending a three-layered structure: the preamble/political commitments, stock taking/evaluation, and the way forward/operative modalities. The communiqué also recommended that the political declaration should address the following issues: asset recovery, mutual legal assistance in prosecution and asset recovery, the link between corruption and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, illicit financial flows, collaboration between the UNCAC Secretariat and Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) Initiative, technical assistance, beneficial ownership of assets, whistleblowing, and operational independence of anti-corruption agencies,” the statement said.
Princess stated that participating in the special session on corruption, one of Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), chaired by the executive chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, while presenting a statement, said Nigeria “acknowledges the very beneficial use of settlements or non-trial resolutions to ensure the disgorgement of illicit gains from corrupt acts”.
The EFCC boss argued that corruption deprives governments of the resources needed because of illicit financial flows (IFFs), thus weakening states’ ability to deliver developmental expectations targeted at women and youths, the statement said.
“Modeling after the action-oriented framework of UNGASS, the Nigerian government developed a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), alongside measures to mitigate leakage including the whistleblower policy which led to the recovery of 43million dollars”.
Policies to mitigate leakages such as NACS have also been invoked, the statement noted.
“In strengthening the legislative framework of the country, Nigeria also launched the 2021 Legislative Anti-Corruption Agenda (LACS). The Bills before parliament, Bawa reiterated, are the Witness Protection Bill, Proceeds of Crime (POCA) Bill, and Public Interest Disclosure and Complaints Commission Bill. He assured of Nigeria’s commitment especially to asset recovery and return”.
The statement concluded that “UNGASS 2021, as the first-ever special session of the UN General Assembly that is focused on corruption, provided an unprecedented opportunity for countries around the world to share best practices on fighting corruption and agree on a global anti-corruption framework. It is hoped that the 193-member states of the UN, including Nigeria, will duly implement the action-oriented political declaration adopted by the Assembly during the special session”.