The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWGN), an NGO, on Wednesday, urged President Bola Tinubu to adopt stiffer penalties for corruption and economic crimes in order to fight the crimes holistically.
lbrahim Abdullahi, the national coordinator of the group, made the call in a statement while reacting to the return of the president from India and the United Arab Emirates as part of his investment drives for Nigeria.
He observed that the downward trend of the nation’s economy is due to corruption and serious economic crimes that have the backing of the laws, including Nigeria’s constitution.
Mr Abdullahi pointed out that unless there are law reviews, the crimes of corruption and economic sabotage cannot be reduced in Nigeria.
He called for stringent laws and constitutional amendments for the ordinary citizens to be assured of good governance, noting that if this is not done, governance will remain beneficial only to political officeholders, while ordinary citizens who should benefit would continue to suffer.
The MMWGN national coordinator called for an amendment to the country’s laws, including benchmarking the amount that can attract bail in financial crimes in the country.
According to him, any amount above N50 million should be accounted for, but suspects should not be bailable.
The group maintained that through Plea Bargaining which is part of our laws, several accused persons have been set free after payment of certain percentage of their looted funds.
“Such laws encourage corruption in the Nigerian society. If plea bargaining and bail for economic crimes works in America and Britain, it is not working for Nigeria,” he said.
He alleged that the last administration made a serious mistake by granting some former governors convicted of economic crimes political pardon without finishing their jail terms in two various prisons in Nigeria.
Mr Abdullahi said: “Nigeria should not just be ‘copy-cats’ on legal system as British and Americans are different from Nigerians.”
The group believed that some provisions in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended promote corruption.
The national coordinator of the group therefore advocated for removal of such provisions in our constitution and the abolition of severance packages to strengthen good governance.
He explained that governance should not be mainly to acquire wealth but to serve the people.
The group also called for the abolition of States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) across the country, as their independence has been eroded by the influence of the governors in determining the results of the elections conducted by them.
“Democracy has been eroded in Nigeria with elections conducted by SIECs and consequently, the LGs that are closer to the people have collapsed.
“This is the result of which we are now witnessing including Local Government Financial Authonomy passed into law and which has not been allowed to work,” he said.