The umbrella body of all the youth organizations in the South East geopolitical zone, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, has advised governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State to take a cue from his Lagos state counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and establish an anti-corruption agency to to curb corruption for the betterment of Abians.
The group says this advise came after it has carefully studied the merits of the Lagos State Anti-Corruption law, urging Abia State House of Assembly to as a matter of urgent importance, promulgate an Anti-Corruption law in the state and present it for signing to the governor.
COSEYL in a statement signed by Hon. Goodluck Egwu Ibem, the President General and Comrade Kanice Igwe, the Secretary General insisted that the law is pertinent because it will entrench accountability in governance and check malfeasance among public office holders entrusted with the common wealth of the people, stating that it will strengthen good governance and probity.
COSEYL in the release said, “The Anti-Corruption agency if passed into law would be independent, free from any interference of the executive and legislative organs of state government and would complement efforts of similar agencies at the federal level.
“Though we are not against the duties of the Economic and Financial Corruption Commission, EFCC, or it’s establishment by the act of National Assembly, but it is more better, convenient and prolific for states to establish laws that will enhance its efficiency and functions.
“Since corruption and crime are not on the exclusive legislative list but on the concurrent legislative list, therefore the state House of Assembly has more powers to promulgate such law for the overall interest of the state and the people under its care.
“According to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, the State House of Assembly is saddled with the responsibility of making laws regarding charges, finances and taxation, the state House of Assembly also has superior powers regarding misappropriation of such funds.
“Anyone one who commits economic crime in respect to fees, taxes and charges or as the case maybe, is subject to the State House of Assembly as enshrined in the constitution for scrutiny.
“It is therefore purely the State House of Assembly that has the constitutional rights and jurisdiction to handle matters of economic crime within its own jurisdiction, and not the federal government through the National Assembly.
“Section 4 of the constitution and the second schedule part 1 and 2 of the exclusive and concurrent legislative list empowers the state to make law regarding economic crimes.
“In the past we have seen cases where monies, estates and properties seized by EFCC from states public office holders are remitted into the federal government purse and never refunded back to the states when the monies were looted from. These have really made states who are the original owners of the money to be more impervorished and poor. Some of the monies recovered from the state public office holder might be money meant for payment of pensions and gratuity and if not returned to the state that owns it, those persons affected may not be paid again.
“In some cases , some businesses owned by private individuals who have no business with any government Contract have been sealed based on misinformation from petitions sent to the EFCC. The anti-graft agency will immediately proceed to seal such properties and businesses leaving those who are gainfully employed in those establishments jobless.
“The state government has all the relevant documents and information about how and where their monies is spent is in a better position to prosecute and recover any stolen or looted funds from its treasury. The desk of the EFCC is already full and it will a heculan task for the EFCC to prosecute financial offenders effectively.
“The state prosecution of looters will not remove any form of sentiment and victimization by the political party in power. It will be more transparent and fair when state recover their looted funds by themselves.
“Government and democracy is about the people and as representatives of the people we demand that the Abia State House of Assembly should as a matter of urgent importance put machinery in place to make a law for the establishment of Abia State Anti-Corruption Agency whose duty will be to prosecute and recover any misappropriated funds from the state treasury.
“This pro-people law if promulgated will curb corruption, strengthen good governance to and restore power back to people who elected the political office holders to represent them.”
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