Journalists, CBOs Train On New Anti Corruption Tracking Techniques 

 

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Yemisi Izuora

A training programme aimed at strengthening the capacity of Community

Based Organisations, (CBOs), bloggers, anti-corruption agencies

officials and media practitioners on new techniques of tracking

corruption and illicit wealth began in the North West city of Kano on

Monday.

Foreign experts joined by local resource persons led scores of

participants on technical and legal skills needed in the global

anti-corruption war. The training, which began in Kano, will also take

place in Abuja and Port Harcourt in coming days.

Nigerian leading anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental

Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), which organized the training

with the theme “Experts Training and Advocacy on Tracing and Recovery of

Illicit funds and Assets”, said, Nigerians needed to take over the

campaign against corruption and therefore own the process. He said the

training empowers individuals and community driven groups to deal with

corruption without necessarily relying on existing institutions for

sources of information at all times.

Two experts from Europe, Nick Hildyard and Christian Erikson led the

training on how participants could explore the internet to track illicit

weapons acquired by public officials. Other supporters of the training

programme are: The Corner House, Finance Uncovered, Kent Law School,

Premium times Centre for Investigative Journalism, MacArthur Foundation,

OSF/OSIWA among others.

The training covered technical areas including but not limited to Asset

Recovery Materials, How to Draft Complaints, how to spot and detect

money laundering, Making Freedom of Information Requests (FOI),

Obtaining Company Registration Document, search for property records

among many others.

A new dimension was brought to the anti-corruption training when one of

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the United Kingdom-based experts, Mr. Nick Hildyard said London remains

one of the leading corruption centres in the world where billions of

illicit funds pass through every year, blaming the trend on official

complicity by political office holders in the UK.

He said, corruption is a virus while the people are the anti-bodies

necessary to fight and exterminate the scourge.

Speaking at the session, HEDA Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said

corruption is a major problem that requires constant anti-vice

innovations by the citizens. He said one of the most strategic ways of

fighting corruption is to empower the people to act on their own. He

said, stability and sustainable livelihood in Nigeria depends on the

capacity of Nigerians to fight corruption.

“There is a link between corruption and violence. For instance, Kano and

the North West are some of the victims of violence. In the face of

institutional anti-corruption efforts, people are damning the law.

Corruption has impact on utilities like water, roads, security which

Nigerians are being made to privately pay for individually. This means

that the government is eroding her responsibilities. Money is allocated

for services not rendered. We can checkmate this by fighting corruption.

Public officials are building personal homes and investing in huge

projects. It is time to ask questions about corruption.” Suraju said.

Hildyard stated “I have been working on human rights and corruption for

about 40 years. You may think UK is a very uncorrupt country, but London

is one of the money laundering centres of the world. What we have in UK

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is legal corruption. We need to work together. We all need to get

involved. It’s remarkable what a small group of people can achieve.” He

said in the UK, the group he leads has been described as “a small dog

with a very large bite”, adding that Nigerians can replicate the same

strategy of making corrupt people and institutions restless.

Hildyard said further “Our efforts have led to changes in UK, including

legal amendments. Corruption is a virus and citizens coming together,

they are the anti-bodies. You may think that tracing assets of

corruption is a difficult thing to do, it is but it is not an impossible

task. It’s our job to use the internet to work on tracing illicit

assets.”

Representative of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct, Zephaniah Bulus

said every time Nigerians keep talking of corruption. “Corruption is

behavioural. On a daily basis, it forms the negative aspects of our

life. While looking for illicit assets, there are liabilities. There

should be responsibilities according to law, There are public officers

that must declare their assets. This is stipulated in Section 52 of the

Nigerian constitution. The law covers public officers in the Executive,

Legislative and the judicial arm of government.”

He said Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau stated that public

officers must declare their assets immediately after taking over office

and that there should be declaration in every four years whereas any

statement in any declaration that is found to be false is a breach of

the Code of Conduct Bureau.

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