President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday called for the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court to try offenders, while urging African leaders to intensify the fight against corruption, and create more disincentives for pilfering of public funds.
Buhari, who is the African Anti-Corruption Champion, made the call in his recorded remark to celebrate the African Day of Anti-Corruption.
This was made known in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
The President praised African leaders for gains so far recorded in the fight against corruption in the continent.
He admonished that efforts must be intensified to prosecute offenders and collect resources that had been stored in other countries.
“Distinguished participants and fellow African leaders, corruption is evil and all efforts at tackling it are desirable. I have monitored the fight against corruption in Africa and I can see both successes and drawbacks. The battle must continue for the sake of the continent and its people no matter the difficulties.
“In Nigeria, the fight against corruption has been vigorous since 2015. A lot has been achieved in the areas of arrest, prosecution, conviction, asset recovery and anti-corruption laws.
“I must admit that the fight has not been a bed of roses. Truly, a lot of more work in many fronts is required. For example, civil and public servants must be ethical and professional at all times. The private sector must contribute in curving corruption. The international community needs to close safe havens. The judiciary requires more impetus. Perhaps, an International Anti-corruption Criminal Court is needed,” he said.
Buhari said family and religious values will have to be upgraded, and schools have a lot of work to do for a better society.
“I am extremely delighted to address the participants as we celebrate the Africa Day of Anti-Corruption. Distinguished participants, we have come a long way in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and Africa in general.
“May I use this opportunity to appreciate fellow African leaders for their individual and collective efforts in fighting corruption on our continent. I appreciate all of you for the confidence reposed in me being the Africa Champion on Anti-Corruption.
“I understand that the theme for 2022 is ‘Strategy and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds, Lessons from the Pandemic.’ In Nigeria, we responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic swiftly and having tamed it, we have realized the need for more awareness campaigns on health issues and more investment in the health sector. Again, service delivery requires checkmating corruption,” he added.
The President told African leaders that “we must get rid of corruption in Africa if the continent is to realize its full potentials.”
“I have come to realize that nations in Africa have to ensure that national resources are not taken to safe havens around the world and we must curtail Illicit Financial Flows in all its ramifications. Also, we must work collectively to recover all resources taken abroad. We must show looters that crime does not pay by depriving them of the proceeds of their crime.
“Also, elite greed and irresponsibility must be eradicated in Africa. Again, ethics, decency, decorum and respect for rule of law must be promoted in Africa. It is important to develop strategies for behavioral change in Africa if corruption is to be tamed. This will ensure that national resources are allowed to serve the population and not a tiny few,” he added.
He also said Anti-Corruption Agencies must be empowered and allowed to deliver on their mandates.
“In Nigeria, I am very proud of our Anti-Corruption Agencies, our law enforcement agencies and our regulatory bodies for their efforts at checking criminality including corruption. I very deeply appreciate them for their sacrifices,” the President said.
President Buhari noted that the fight against corruption must be sustained for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Our youths have no place to go and live with dignity but in Africa. As I am leaving office next year, I am proud to leave behind a legacy of fighting corruption among others.
“Personally, I abhor corruption and I will render my best in or out office to get rid of corruption in Nigeria and Africa in general. I urge our youths to join me in this noble cause,” he said.
He urged African leaders to work together at whatever level to get rid of corruption in Africa, adding “Posterity will judge us right if we deal with corruption as appropriate.”