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States should join anti-corruption fight

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Some contracts are awarded by a state, which can lead to corrupt behaviour.

During a one-day hybrid sensitisation workshop on improved guidelines for government parties to follow when negotiating contracts and agreements to combat corruption, laundering of funds, and other forms of corrupt practices and to promote sustainable development, state governments have been urged to join the battle against corruption by Nigerian Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN. This conference was held in Nigerian capital, Abuja, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Contracts are not just handed out at the federal level, so the Attorney General stressed that the battle against corruption should involve all levels of government. He mentioned the problem of corruption and the inaccurate belief that the fight against it should be confined to the federal government. The federal government isn’t the only one engaging in the contract procedure; the states do as well. Some of these states ought to be brought on board, and there must be a method to do so.

International law only queries the federal government on states’ behalf.

At the workshop, there was also a panel discussion on concerns surrounding the process of negotiating agreements in the areas of oil and gas, solid minerals, trade and investment and environmental standards contracts. Fagbemi stated when speaking about the new guidelines that the Commission began that the document was required due to the fact that some of the corrupt practices that are being combated in the country originated at the state level, yet international laws rarely recognised those states.

In addition to being helpful to the federal government, the documents they release will also be useful to state governments. In international law, it is impossible to identify the several states involved. The federal government advocates on behalf of the individual states. The federal government is being asked to explain why these crimes are also happening on the state level. He said that there ought to be an additional approach that could be used in order to convince the states of the importance of anti-corruption initiatives.

The revised guidelines will discourage corrupt behaviour.

Moreover, the Minister stated that the government is supporting the efforts of the ICPC and other agencies to promote openness, improve efficiency, and eliminate corruption. As part of the Federal Government’s ministerial deliverables on better guidelines for delivering efficient services, he explained that the revised guidelines will discourage corrupt behaviour in negotiating and executing government contracts. He stated this would be possible due to the fact that the concept of the revised guidelines is more transparent.

While speaking, the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, pointed out that contracts are often exploited for capital flight and various kinds of illicit financial flows because they do not include provisions for periodic review, nor do they include provisions for the granting of licences or waivers. He said the rules were necessary because of the ways in which the nation has been disadvantaged by the choice of laws and the position of arbitration.

Continuous review of templates and authorised checklists is needed.

Also, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, recommended the way forward for tackling some of the issues that are encouraging funds flights in commercial contracts in a paper titled “Avoiding Tax Defaults and Capital Flights in Commercial Agreements.” This paper was written to prevent tax defaults and capital flight. He suggested, amongst other things, establishing a standard approach through the utilisation of templates and authorised checklists that are continually reviewed and updated.

Related Links

ICPC: Website

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