ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR
ASSOCIATION, AUGUSTINE ALEGEH SAN, FCIArb.[UK] AT
THE PRESS BRIEFING TO MARK INTERNATIONAL ANTI-
CORRUPTION DAY ORGANISED BY THE ANTI-CORRUPTION
COMMISSION OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION ON
9TH DECEMBER, 2015 AT THE NBA NATIONAL
SECRETARIAT, ABUJA.

Protocol
I heartily welcome you all to the Media Briefing of the
Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] to mark the International
Anti-Corruption Day.
The NBA joins millions of Associations and other
international bodies to mark this auspicious celebration of
the International Anti-Corruption Day today, 9th December,
2015.
It is apposite to state that following the passage of the
United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2003, the
United Nations designated the 9th of December every year
as the date to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day
globally. On this day, issues of corruption across the globe
are critically analysed and examined with a view to promote
and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption
more effectively and efficiently.
Introduction
Corruption is a complex, social, political and economic
phenomenon that affects all countries of the world. It is a
cankerworm that distorts the electoral process, perverts the
rule of law and stunts economic growth and development.
Corruption has continued to form a major part of topical
national discourse for quite some time now. Several
Workshops and Seminars have been organised by several
bodies to raise awareness on the effects of corruption and
to propose measures to tackle incidents of corruption
frontally. Several Politicians have always touted “Zero
Tolerance for Corruption” as the policy thrust of their
campaigns and upon being elected, have jettisoned this
lofty ideal and merely paid lip service to corruption related
matters.
This perceived indifference or weakness by successive
regimes to effectively tackle corruption or prosecute persons
accused of engaging in corrupt practices has led to the
wanton disregard of the rule of law and the unfettered
access to loot public treasuries by corrupt and unscrupulous
politicians.
The Role of the NBA
The NBA Anti-Corruption Commission was inaugurated in
February, 2015 and was charged with the mandate of
creating awareness on the ills of corruption through
Workshops, Seminars and programmes; Interfacing and
Effective co-operation with Anti-Corruption Agencies
amongst others. In line with their mandate, the NBA Anti-
Corruption Commission, on 24th June, 2015 organised a
One-Day Workshop tagged “The Fight against Corruption in
Nigeria: The Way Forward” whereat issues of corruption
were x-rayed and recommendations on the way forward
made thereof.
Furthermore, the NBA Anti-Corruption Commission
organised a Showcase session tagged “Anti-Corruption:
Fresh Strategies, New Initiatives” at the just concluded 2015
NBA Annual General Conference in Abuja on 24th August,
2015. At this event, the following issues were discussed:
• Anti-Corruption laws in force in Nigeria were examined
• Issues of delay in trial of corruption cases
• Selective prosecution of Corruption cases
• Inadequate investigation before trial of corruption cases
• Filing of bogus charges against accused persons in courts
• Lack of management of recovered assets
• Inadequate infrastructure in Courts to aid speedy
prosecution of corruption related cases
• Political Interference in the fight against corruption
• Lack of mutual legal assistance from foreign jurisdictions
• Inconsistent interpretations of the Constitution on
jurisdiction as relates to criminal trials.
• Lack of funding of Anti-Corruption agencies
• Failure by the National Assembly to pass the pending Bill
on Asset Confiscation
• Lack of Witness protection mechanisms in Nigeria
At the end of the session, several recommendations were
made amongst which are:
• Introduction of Plea Bargain in the prosecution of
corruption cases
• Independence of the Judiciary to enable dispassionate trial
of cases
• Cooperation amongst all Stakeholders in the fight against
corruption
• Enactment of Speedy Trial Act to ensure the speedy
adjudication of corruption matters
• Introduction of a unified system of criminal justice
dispensation etc.
The NBA commends the ‘zero corruption’ stance of the
present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari,
GCFR as stated in his inaugural speech on 29th May, 2015
and evidenced in the myriad of corruption cases currently
pending in several courts. However, we reiterate the fact
that Government must ensure that persons accused of
corrupt practices are prosecuted within the ambit of the law
and must ensure that their Human Rights are respected.
The NBA reiterates its commitment in collaborating with the
Federal Government to fight corruption at all levels total
compliance and will assist in organising programmes and
trainings for State Counsel on ways to ensure the efficient
prosecution of corruption cases.
The NBA urges the Attorney General of the Federation and
Minister of Justice to initiate measures that will ensure the
synergy and collaboration of all anti-corruption agencies in
the fight against corruption. The AGF has the task of
ensuring that these agencies are properly funded and
adequately equipped to investigate and prosecute cases of
corruption. The Anti-corruption laws should also be reviewed
to reflect present day challenges.
The filing of bogus charges and frivolous applications in
court by State counsel is totally unacceptable and
inappropriate. There is an urgent need to ensure the proper
training of State Counsel and staff of anti-corruption
agencies to ensure that corrupt practices are dealt with
efficaciously and with the highest level of professionalism.
This will help in boosting the image of these agencies and
ensure that their activities are in conformity with
international best practices and standards.
Role of Lawyers
As Ministers in the temple of justice, we owe a duty to
society and to posterity to ensure that matters are
adjudicated upon fairly and timeously. We must never
constitute a clog in the wheel of justice by our desire to
satisfy the selfish interests of clients. Lawyers must always
remain above board and ensure that the proper steps are
taken in proceedings before the court.
The unsavoury practice of filing frivolous applications in
court to frustrate court proceedings is a matter which the
Nigerian Bar Association is prepared to deal with decisively.
Such actions amount to professional misconduct and
lawyers who are unfortunate enough to toe this line will be
made to face disciplinary actions before the Disciplinary
Committee of the Bar.
It is important to once again reiterate that the interpretation
and/or categorization of conduct that amount to infamous
conduct or Professional Misconduct is now more liberal.
Consequently, any unbecoming conduct by a legal
Practitioner falls under the disciplinary scope of the NBA
irrespective of the fact that the conduct did not occur in a
strictly legal environment. A member of the NBA who
misconducts himself and gets reported to the LPDC stands
a chance of being debarred.
Conclusion
The fight against corruption is a fight which must be won at
all costs.
The Nigerian Bar Association restates its willingness to
work assiduously with the government in all areas and at all
levels by providing pro bono services to the Law
Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Agencies in their fight
against corruption.
Although the task of eliminating corruption may appear
daunting, it is a task which must be pursued vigorously and
frontally to ensure a corruption-free nation. The public must
never shy away from its duty to report all suspected cases
of corruption to the appropriate authorities for same to be
dealt with.
The Law Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Agencies owe a
corresponding duty to ensure the effective and exhaustive
investigation of petitions arising from members of the public
with a view to prosecute same and secure the necessary
convictions thereto.
I wish all of us happy celebrations as we mark the
International Anti-Corruption Day.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
God bless the Nigerian Bar Association!
9th December, 2015

AUGUSTINE ALEGEH SAN, FCIArb [UK] PRESIDENT, NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION

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