The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Professor Bolaji Owansanoye, SAN, has urged members of the Anti-corruption and Transparency Units of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies to up their ante in ensuring a corruption-free public service.
ACTU is a unit created in 2001, by the anti-graft agency, with the mandate of monitoring officials and private transactions of officials of MDAs.
Owasanoye, who handed down the task on Wednesday in his opening remarks at the 2-day Capacity Building Workshop and Zonal Consultative Forum for ACTU chairmen and secretaries in the South-South zone, said with a better equipped ACTUs, who live up to their mandates, the public service would be the better for it.
The chairman, who was represented by ICPC member in the Zone, Anne Odey, said despite the odds working against their performance, most of them have lived up to expectations in providing intelligence on sharp practices within their establishments, even as he urged them to do more.
Speaking on why the anti-graft agency organized the training, Owasanoye stated that some members of ACTUs have not yet gotten full grasp of their mandate, saying that the workshop will make them better equipped in the fight against corruption, as they have been provided with some statutory backing.
He said, “I would like to urge the ACTUs to step up their efforts at ensuring a corruption-free public service by supporting these initiatives and structures.
“I am convinced that with a better equipped ACTU ready and willing to deliver on their mandates, the public service would be the better for it. Leadership of ACTU in both University of Calabar and the University of Uyo Teaching hospital have been helpful, especially in the high profile cases we are investigating and would soon prosecute.
“In our estimation, the ACTUs have been and would continue to be a vibrant tool of diminishing corruption in the public service of Nigeria, especially at the federal level.”
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, the Resident Anti-Corruption Commissioner of ICPC, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, Mr Olusola Shodipo, charged members to take the training seriously as they constitute “the eyes and nose of the anti-corruption commission in its fight to tame corruption in public service.”
“We teach them preliminary investigation and intelligence. They are like a feeding team because ICPC cannot be everywhere and we don’t divulge their identity or where the information is coming from but as an insider in their different organisations, they give us first hand information backed with evidence that will aid our investigations,” Shodipo noted.
One of the participants, a Chief Consultant University of Uyo Teaching hospital, Alphonsus Idung, in an interview explained that one of the challenges facing ACTUs in his establishment was the inability and timidity of some persons to give out information for fear of victimisation.
According to him, “Some people are too docile to give out information. You know that it’s not everybody that will be on the same page with you. Despite that, we have caught so many and two of the high profile cases are before a panel in the ministry of health and I promise that they will not go scot-free for engaging in some sharp practices.”