Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), members of civil society groups and others have called on anti-graft agencies to beam their searchlight on professional bodies in the country if the fight against corruption must be successful.
Falana and others are of the opinion that until members of professional bodies who are found to have aided crimes and criminality are sanctioned, corruption will continue to be on the rise.
Falana, Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olarenwaju Suraj, and Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), Mr Sadiq Radda, argued that professionals such as lawyers, accountants, bankers etc should be made to face the same punishment alongside their criminal clients.
They made the suggestions on Wednesday in Abuja at the 24th Anti-corruption Situation Room (ACSR) organized by HEDA in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation.
Speaking at the occasion, Falana noted that anti-graft agencies have been unusually kind to professionals who aided and abetted their clients to commit grave corrupt practices.
The senior lawyer, who lamented that professionals have been running Nigeria aground since independence in 1960, stated that the country is losing the battle against bandits because of impunity.
“We are told that trillions have been earmarked to procure arms and ammunition to fight insurgents; so why are we losing the battle against bandits, against terrorists, against kidnappers? It is because of impunity in our country, in other words, professional bodies have failed to call their members to order, to hold their members accountable,” he said.
Speaking further on impunity, Falana who cited the ongoing strike by the judiciary workers, said it is only in a failed state or a banana republic that the governors will refuse to do the needful.
He pointed out that it is not possible for a public officer to keep his or her loot or hide the proceed of criminals, adding that: “If we truly have to fight corruption then civil society groups as well as professional bodies must wake up and beam their searchlight on professionals who are aiding corruption in our country.”
He further charged the body of bankers to arise and tackle the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which he accused of conniving with international financial organizations to destroy Nigeria’s economy “dollarization”.
HEDA’s Chairman, Suraj, on his part, said it is high time for professional associations to begin to enforce the code of their professions as part of their contributions in the fight against corruption in the country.
While disclosing that HEDA at its last situation room penned down a hundred high profile corruption cases in Nigeria, he enjoined lawyers to be part of the fight against corruption so that these cases can be brought to a logical conclusion.
Suraj noted that the purpose of the meetings is aimed at winning support from various professional bodies in the fight against corruption.
The Executive Secretary of PACAC, Mr Sadiq Radda, also speaking noted that almost all professions from the law to banking sectors are guilty of breaching their own code of conduct.
He urged the professional bodies to introduce strong punitive measures against erring members to serve as deterrent to others.