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Why anti-graft war is not succeeding – Saraki

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Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said on Monday that the anti-corruption war in the country has been largely unsuccessful because the nation’s anti graft agencies were playing to the gallery instead of facing the substance.

He accused the nation’s anti graft agencies of abandoning the substance of corruption and focusing on showmanship.

Saraki said the approach to the anti-graft campaign by the agencies was largely responsible for their inability to secure any conviction for all the high profile cases they had handled since they started operation few years ago.

Speaking at the public presentation of a book “Antidote For Corruption” written by Senator Dino Melaye, the Senate president said the anti-graft agencies were under pressure “to show that they are working,” forcing them to do more of showmanship than actual prosecution of corruption cases.

He said: For the country to win the war on corruption, we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure. The reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

“The problem with that approach, however, is that the justice system in any democracy is primarily inclined to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. Therefore, it continues to presume every accused as innocent until proven guilty.

“Most often, it is difficult to establish guilt beyond all reasonable doubts as required by our laws. It requires months, if not years, of painstaking investigations. It requires highly experienced and technically sound investigation and forensic officers.

“It requires anti-corruption agents and agencies that are truly independent and manifestly insulated from political interference and manipulation. We must admit that we are still far from meeting these standards.

“Most often, therefore, because our anti-corruption agencies are under pressure to justify their existence and show that they are working, they often tend to prefer the show over the substance. However, while the show might provide momentary excitement or even public applause, it does not substitute for painstaking investigation that can guarantee convictions.”

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