Professor Itsejuwa Esanjumi Sagay (SAN), Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), in this interview, speaks on the activities of the committee in the last one year in waging the war against corruption in the country. He also speaks on the controversy trailing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, secessionist agitation, True Federalism and other issues. Excerpts:
What has been the achievements of PACAC in the last one year under your leadership?
I can mention so many things but two of the major things PACAC has done is taking the anti-corruption message to the states. Prior to now, PACAC activities has been federal. Majority of what we have been doing is at the federal level but now, we have taken the message to the states. So far, 21 states have been reached. We are in partnership with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) which offices in every state of the federation. We have sent delegation there and we have had roundtable with various organisations including government, civil society organisations, news agencies and so on. During the interaction, the issue of war against corruption was discussed in detail and how states can apply what we have achieved so far. Let me add that this is not the first time we have interacted with states. We have trained prosecutors on how to effectively prosecute their cases, but this time, we went to them instead of them coming to us. Then, we had interaction with the judiciary in a zoom type of dialogue with the President of the Court of Appeal where we presented a very detailed statement on our thoughts on what the judiciary should be doing. We had a very dynamic meeting in which the President of the Court of Appeal, responded and participated very actively. That message was contained in a paper that I personally wrote and was sent to most of the courts in the country.
Recently, we also had interactions with professionals such as bankers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, quantity surveyors and others. We met with their heads and interacted with them on how they can use internal processes to fight against corruption among their members. For example, those who are helping clients to do money laundering. We let them understand what the accountants and lawyers know about it. Some of our professionals are being used by corrupt people to transmit and resources abroad and these are monies that have been stolen. We discussed all that in details and the various measures they have for monitoring and disciplining their members. We enhanced the capacities of the various professional bodies to actually monitor their members and to discourage corruption and money laundering. That was done about two weeks ago in Lagos. So, those are the two major things but like I said, a lot has been done in by PACAC this year.
There are reports that as an agency under the office of the Attorney-General’s office like the EFCC and ICPC, the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has not been giving enough support to PACAC. How true is that?
PACAC is really not an agency under the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. He has never initiated anything that we have to comply with. What has been happening is like mutual understanding between PACAC and the office of the Attorney-General. When they have programme, they invite us and when we have programme, we also invite them. But he has no power, authority or influence over anything we have been doing. We are two separate organisations. He is an executive type of institution while we are more of a think-tank with some capacities for coordination of the anti-corruption agencies. He has his own powers over them and we also have our own powers running on parallel lines but there is no hierarchy between us and them. We are not above the Ministry of Justice and they are also not above us. They are running their own and we are running ours too but we cooperate where necessary
Not much has been heard about the whistleblowing policy of the federal government since the exit of former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun. Has the policy been abolished?
The whistleblowing policy has not been abolished. It is just that it has slowed down in terms of people coming out to blow the whistle on corrupt persons. It has really slowed down and right now, what is being worked on is to establish a witness protection programme which will ensure that witnesses can come out boldly without fear of their careers or lives or of any danger whatsoever. Once that has been accomplished through legislation, more people will come out to whistleblow on corrupt people.