Anti-Corruption Crusade: Reform the Judicial System Now

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In an effort to minimize the spate of corruption and sanitize the entire system in the Country, the Federal Government has been urged to embark on the total overhauling and reformation of the judicial sector.

This was the highlight of the communiqué issued at the end of a one-day interfaith and media engagement forum on anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria organized by Interfaith Anti-Corruption Network in collaboration with Strength in Diversity Development Centre (SDDC) Nigeria.

The programme, with the theme; “Harnessing Interfaith and Media Potentials in the fight against Corruption in Nigeria” came up at the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) Conference and Exhibition Centre Alausa, Lagos.

Stakeholders affirmed that corruption was a cankerworm and a monumental endemic that had eaten deep into every fabric of the Nigerian society, hence the urgent need for the government to reform and strengthen the judicial system towards handling corrupt cases.  The sector is expected to ensure that all perpetrators are made to face the full wrath of the laws irrespective of religious affiliations, political parties, language differences, creed, ethnic or cultural background.

The forum also called on the government to ensure that convicted persons are not allowed to hold any public office in the country to serve as deterrents to others who may be nursing corrupt ambition.

The federal government was also admonished to establish Ministry of Religious Affairs where religious leaders will always meet to discuss common challenges of the society including corruption and find means of sensitizing their numerous followers on the evil effects of corruption.

The stakeholders further advised the government to include in the curriculum of the schools from primary to tertiary, civic education that will enlighten more on the qualities and duties of a public office holder.

Heart of the Problem:

One of the discussants, Ambassador Segun Adeoye stated that corruption is not only attached to politicians but everyone within the society.  That the endemic cuts across all institutions – churches, mosques, homes and among artisans.

He said: “Corruption is not only in Nigeria but all over the world.  It has to do with our nature as human beings.  We are very selfish intrinsically.  “The heart of the problem is the heart of man.”

Need for Improvement on Journalists’ Welfare:

The President, National Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ) Lagos State Chapter, Mrs. Sekinah Lawal has clamored for a drastic improvement to the general welfare of journalists if we indeed expect an accurate and objective report from them.  She said media practitioners easily fell to the financial inducements from well to do Nigerians due to poor incentives, thereby hampering the objectivity of reports.

“The real problem of media practitioners is very simple.  You put them as watchdogs of the society but the dogs are very hungry, so what do you expect? Journalists who also have family members to take care of are being owed several months.  How do you expect him to be just in his findings?  There are so many things journalists can do to keep a check on the activities of the government but there is need to improve their take-home pay so that they will perform the role of watchdog effectively and diligently,” she opined.

Mrs. Lawal also believed there will be the law of karma on those who diverted public funds for personal use.  That whatever is amassed legitimately or illegally will be accounted for, on the day of judgment.

Welfarism of Religious leaders also paramount:

There was also a call for better welfare for all religious leaders in a bid to achieve success in the anti-corruption crusade.  Religious leaders are expected to live above board in the society but they tend to be corrupt due to a poor standard of living.  The stakeholders further admonished religious leaders to work on their spiritual upliftment and capacity building.  They were also urged to be upright and righteous.

Hate Speech is Evil:

The second part of the conference centered on the development and signing of character on anti-hate speech and incitement to violence along religious and ethnic divides.  Hate speech was described as a satanic, unproductive and counter-productive statement which could destroy patriotism and lead to civil war.

As a way of eliminating hate speech in society, the stakeholders proposed that the National Assembly must quickly pass a bill against it.  They also requested the enforcement agencies to make scapegoats out of many offenders to serve as deterrents.  Also, it was suggested that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be strengthened to sensitize the general public on the dangers of hate speech while the primary and secondary school curriculum must be expanded to include instructions on hate speech.

While speaking at the forum, one of the invited guests Imam Sulaiman Adangba stated that there was a need to understand the deep meaning of a person and personality.  That the combination of a habit and character leads to an attitude which makes a person.  He said this was very essential when guiding against hate speech.

He said it was disheartening to realize that religious leaders and media practitioners are no longer recognized in the country because they have lost their positions due to their quest for materialism.

The co-convener of the programme, Imam Abdul Kareem Majemu stated that the conference which was the second edition was a three-year project.  He reiterated that the programme aims at finding means on how religious leaders and media professionals can work hand in hand to support the anti-corruption campaign and hate speech in Nigeria.

All participants later adopted and signed the charter on Anti-Hate speech and incitement to violence along religious and ethnic divides.