Law, vital tool in fight against corruption

It is no longer news that corruption is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation today, the more reason why Nigerians overwhelmingly voted General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) because of his integrity and personality as a no nonsense man when it comes to the scourge called ‘corruption’, however fighting this scourge would be impossible without the appropriate laws in place.
As Jakarta Post rightly said, “The law is the very foundation of a peaceful and prosperous society, which we all can benefit from … corruption can be fought off when all the players and stakeholders in the legal system {including judges, prosecutors, police and advocates} share the same commitment.”
  Lawyers, as key actors in the legal system, are therefore saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that corruption is reduced to its barest minimum by ensuring that the right thing is done not just within the four walls of the court room but also outside the court room, in our relationship with the public {clients}, this is where the legal profession has the most influence in countering corruption.
The fight against corruption would not be won until the day the ‘rule of law’ is fully functional in our beloved country and this is possible when the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary work hand in hand towards eradicating the scourge. The executive under the new administration should encourage the judiciary with true independence where every man, irrespective of status, can face the wrath of the law; where the common man on the street can access justice easily and speedily even against a government agency; where court judgments are obeyed by every citizen and arm of government in the country.
For the legislature, trustworthy and effective enactments like the ‘whistleblower act’ are essential to create an environment where honest Nigerians privy of information regarding stolen funds would not be punished if they come forward, rather be commended and protected once a claim has been proved to be true. Many personal assistants, messengers, secretaries of some government officials though privy to some helpful information about corruption cannot report because of fear for their lives and jobs.
For the judiciary, paraphrasing the words of Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of Benue Court of Appeal Division while delivering the annual Alao Aka Bashorun memorial lecture on the topic ‘The Role of the Bar in Exterminating the Termite of Impunity from Nigeria’, said judges should cease from granting unnecessary adjournments, delay rulings and judgments or fail to take control of proceedings, while lawyers should avoid frivolous applications to frustrate trials, unnecessary interlocutory appeals, turning professional ethics upside down to satisfy clients and so on and so forth.
Corruption must be perceived as a ‘public enemy’ against our economy and humanity and so the fight must also be collective one involving all arms of government. But the right laws as a vital tool in the fight must be in place and those already enacted should be worked upon to produce more effective result like fusing EFCC and ICPC into one body, making it mandatory for Nigerians interested in government positions, be it elective or appointment, to truly declare their assets, etcetera.
While it is true that the citizens are not left out in this fight the government has to first take the lead to instill confidence and patriotism in them, as the saying goes “if the head is well, the whole body is equally well”.
As we step into a new dawn come May 29, 2015 the Bar and the Bench, custodians of the law and how it works, need to be empowered to tackle this scourge then can we be sure that corruption is sure to meet its end.
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