The swearing-in of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 May 1999, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was a political watershed for Nigeria after several years of military rule and it marked a new dawn for Nigeria in more ways than one, not least in the fight against corruption. At the time the civilian administration came into power, corruption in Nigeria had indeed become a full blown cancer. In 1999, Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rated Nigeria the second most corrupt nation in the world.
Although corruption is a global malaise, the extent of its reach in the country was tragically stupendous. All indicators showed that the spread of this cancer had become frightening. It pervaded private and public institutions and overwhelmed all levels of government.
The price of corruption has been extremely high. The economic, political, social and moral bases of the country have been severely eroded and degraded. It has brought Nigeria near the brink and almost rendered it helpless and hopeless. Even religious institutions, the gate keepers of the nation’s moral conscience, were not immune to the ravages of the cancer. It became imperative that something drastic had to be done to arrest the rot. This impelled the commitment of the President to tackle corruption head-on.
The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 (Act 2000) brought a fresh and decisive perspective to the fight against corruption in the form of a holistic approach encompassing enforcement, prevention and educational measures. It captures in a single document, a host of corrupt offences in their old and sophisticated guises. It sets up the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission with wide-ranging powers. The Act brings under its purview all Nigerians, in the private and public sectors and even those public officers with constitutional immunity.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission was inaugurated on September 29th, 2000 by the Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR.
The Commission is at the hub of Nigeria ‘s fight against corruption. In the order set out at section 6 of the Act 2000, the first duty of the Commission is to receive complaints, investigate and prosecute offenders. Other duties reviewing and modifying the systems and procedures of public bodies as well as education of the public and fostering their support in combating corruption.
Membership of the Commission
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission was inaugurated on the 29th of September, 2000 by President Olusegun Obasanjo. As provided for in Section 3(3) of the Act 2000, the Commission consists of a Chairman and twelve (12) Members, two of whom represent each of the six geo-political zones of the country. The membership is drawn from the following categories of Nigerians as spelt out by the Act:
– A retired Police Officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police;
– A legal practitioner with at least 10 years post-call experience;
– A retired Judge of a superior court of record;
– A retired Public Servant not below the rank of a Director;
– A woman;
– A youth not being less than 21 or more than 30 years of age at the time of his or her appointment; and
– A chartered accountant.
The Act provides that the Chairman and Members of the Commission, who shall be persons of proven integrity, shall be appointed by the President upon confirmation by the Senate and shall not begin to discharge their duties until they have declared their assets and liabilities as prescribed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The tenure of office for the Chairman is five (5) years while that of the Members is four (4) years in the first instance.
The Act also provides for the position of a Secretary to the Commission who is to be appointed by the President. The Commission is granted the powers to appoint, deploy, discipline and determine the conditions of service of its staff. Section 3 (14) of the Act enshrines the independence of the Commission by providing that “the Commission shall in the discharge of its functions under this Act, not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.