By Chimezie Godfrey
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has warned politicians to desist from sending frivolous petitions against political opponents.
The ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) stated this while hosting the leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) at the Commission’s Headquarters.
Professor Owasanoye noted that some politicians tend to weaponize anti-corruption agencies with politically motivated petitions in order to outdo their opponents warning that such moves will not work with the ICPC.
“Usually when the season for competition comes, there is a spike in politically motivated petitions for wild-goose chases. Some are brazen enough to tell you that “we should make sure to stop Mr A from contesting” and they will bring a petition forward. That is not our job, and we will not get involved in those things. We pack those type of petitions aside basically. Even if there is implication of merit within the complaint, we will say “go and compete first”.
“We are not going to be the one to be used to give you the fair or unfair advantage. When the competition is over, we will decide on the merit or otherwise of what you have brought forward”.
He however noted that ICPC has an existing understanding with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on how to go about genuine electoral petitions when the need arises.
“We do have an understanding with INEC that in cases where contestants challenge each other in court and the decision says somebody forged a certificate for example, INEC will send those things to us, and we are prosecuting a few of them at the moment. Those are ways we will add value without compromising ourselves or exposing our officers to the compromise and desperation of politicians during the contest.” he said.
The ICPC boss also challenged political parties to do a self-check of candidates they field as the fortune of any nation relies on the type of leaders it gets, noting that the pruning process should start with political parties so that “charity should begin at home”.
Earlier in his address, the chairman of IPAC, Engineer Yabagi Sani, stated that the motive for the visit was for effective collaboration and support of the anti-graft agency in ensuring that politicians with questionable characters were not elected into office.
“The activities that will lead to the emergence of a government that will preside over the affairs of this nation is something that all stakeholders must buy into so as to have a free, fair and credible elections come 2023.
“Politics is management of crisis and we believe that if we can get the recruitment of leadership right, which will come from due diligence we are expected to carry out, they (political office holders) will conduct themselves in a manner that will give this country the kind of respect which we are expected to showcase in the eyes of the committee of nations, that is by ensuring that governance is free from all shades of corruption.” Engr. Sani concluded.