The War Against Corruption Must Follow Due Process –Arheghan | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The War Against Corruption Must Follow Due Process –Arheghan

Posted: Nov 11, 2016 at 6:53 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
Arheghan

Arheghan

Rev. Humphrey Ehis Arheghan is Executive Director, Bethshan Youth Organization, a non-governmental organisation. He spoke to FRANCIS ONOIRIBHOLO on the recent clampdown on the suspected corrupt judges among other issues

 

 With reference to the high cost of obtaining justice in the country, how do you see the recent raid of Justices over alleged corruption?

I am interested in purging corruption. B in doing this, we must follow due process and the law. I do not believe in guerilla warfare. It does not help any issue because we do not live in the jungle, but by laws.

There are constitutional ways or legal ways to arrest and address a corrupt person. It is not by breaking down somebody’s walls who does not resist you or has a gun. He did not have anything in the middle of the night. I do not support that because as far as I am concerned you need to go through the process. The process is, if you have a case, you report, and investigate. I keep saying that we are talking of learning from America, America can take years to investigate a matter. When they come to the issue of justice being served, you cannot controvert the information they are going to give you because they have scientifically proven that these cases are true. But in Nigeria today, corruption cases are lost in court because of the way and manner they are pursued and we are not still learning from it.

Nuhu Ribadu did almost the same thing, everybody is trying to do. If you do a good thing in a bad manner, it does not make it good. Most of these issues you are talking about, one man does not steal. It takes millions of persons to steal. Politicians cannot steal without civil servants. It is the civil servants that help pass the papers. So, if you are going to fight corruption, don’t fight the one that you know. You sift through the process. How many of them were involved? The governors that were arrested, where are those that helped them process the papers? So, corruption is not being fought to the roots. It is like a doctor who wants to cure a sickness. He will not just look at the headache, but will ask questions as to what brought about it. So you do diagnoses to be able to give a pure and proper medicine to cure that illness. Today in Nigeria, corruption to me is not being fought in a manner that it can be won and set to be won because we have not dealt with the root of the issues.

So for the judges, yes we have been saying that ‘justice’ has been corrupted. But there is a process. Like the Chief Justice was saying, there is the constitution to arrest or to prosecute. They gave them power for judicial sanction and that is what they have been doing. But after that, the Executive arm of government has a right, if a judge is dismissed, he should be able to ask, ‘ let me see the case file’ and then he will pursue it. It is not the Chief Judge that will call you and say, ‘come take this case file’, it is not constitutionally recognised.

The President has asked the National Assembly for approval of $30 billion foreign loan, which the Senate has rejected. Do you think this loan is necessary when the government has been recovering a lot of money from corrupt public officials?

 

I listened to the Minister of Information saying that they were going to re-submit and discuss with the legislature behind the scene, which I know all politicians do. Every government obtains loans everywhere. But you have to ask yourself: What is the veracity of the loans? We have had loans in this country, were they properly used?

You mentioned recovering of money. I laugh when I hear those things. Nobody has told us how much was recovered and where the money is right now. During Goodluck Jonathan there was recovery of money. So, this one is telling us they recovered money from somewhere. I think Nigerians should leave the idea of sensational words because when government wants to be seen to be doing something they make statements that are not substantiated. Nobody has told you categorically how much have been recovered. Nobody has told you what has been done with the money that was recovered. That is why it is also illogical for they to to say they want to take a loan.

But first of all, when you are taking a loan, make it open to the public. What is the loan going to be used for? If you go to America for instance, if the President wants to take a loan, the legislative arm of government takes a public hearing, brings every person involved in the government arm to come and explain. Nigeria does not have that, we do not know anything about it. We just hear $30 billion dollars.

 

 A new government will be inaugurated any moment from now in Edo State, where do you want this government to start from?

 

We want a government that is responsive to the people. I believe that Edo State can generate resources to cater for the need of our citizens. We are endowed with too many things. We do not even need to wait for federal allocation. I believe so, because we have agriculture. In those days when I was growing up, there was one farm settlement. We have Agbede/Wareke farms, we have the one in Illushi. We have the one in Edo North. These employed families and there was enough food to be eaten. So what has happened to it? Why are we neglecting it? We keep taking money from allocation, we keep borrowing money, but there is no industry, nothing is being done. So, why do we do that? If a government is coming in now, we should appreciate that we need to have internal workings of life.

Let us open up, there are lots of farms, it is not with hoe and cutlass. There are people who will want to invest in agriculture. Let us do it. Let us open up farm settlements again. If you can feed yourself, you have done half of a lot of things.

I also remembered there use to be community-government relations, especially in education for instance. When I was young, some communities would pay the teachers, give them accommodation, they provide foodstuff to them. If government can partner with communities and individuals, I keep saying government is not the best manager of resources, government is not the one to employ everybody, that is not government business, government business is to create the atmosphere for the individuals to realize their potentials. There are people who can do something. Let government allow individuals who want to do something to do it.

There should also be tax incentives. If a company wants to open up, give the company tax rebate so that with that tax rebate he can employ people and open up communities. There should also be business/community relations. If a business is going to open up what are you going to do for the community? Then that encourages tax rebate. But you are yet collecting a lot of taxes from them and you are not allowing them to do anything. So we need to have this synergy.

There is not government plan, economic plan for the state. We used to have five years rolling plan, 10 years rolling plan. Anybody who does not plan to succeed has planned to fail. You cannot wake up in the morning and say I am going to tar a road. That is not the issue, it should be systematic. So, if he comes in, the first thing to do is to set up a committee of experts to help draft either five or 10 years economic plan.