EFCC urges religious leaders to take more roles in fight against corruption

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Ola Olukoyede, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, has called on religious leaders in Nigeria to take a more active role in the fight against corruption and cybercrime.

Olukoyede, made the call  on Thursday in Abuja, at the Nigeria Inter- Religious Council (NIREC) meeting titled:  “The Role of Religious Leaders in Combating Corruption and Cybercrime.’’

Olukayode who was represented by Mr Wilson Uwujaren, acting Director, Corporate Affairs of the commission, noted the crucial role religious leaders play in shaping the moral fabric of society and urged them to use their influence to promote integrity and transparency.

Olukoyede lamented that inspite of Nigeria’s rich human and mineral resources, corruption has hindered the country’s development, perpetuating poverty and insecurity.

National growth LS

“Ethnic identities and religious backgrounds of looters made no difference so far  their fingers were on the till, hence the need for collective energies to defeat the common enemy.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that NIREC is a voluntary Association made up of 50 Members, (25 Christians and 25 Muslims) formed by representatives of the two principal Religions – that is Christianity and Islam in Nigeria.

It is a platform to provide Religious Leaders and Traditional Rulers with a variable forum to promote greater interaction and understating among the leadership and their followers.

It’ was  also created to lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in the country.

He said Nigeria has all it requires, human and mineral resources – to truly be the giant of Africa but was held back by corruption.

Olukayode said that  citizens lived in a country where most public officers see public office as an opportunity for accumulation of wealth.

He said it was difficult to explain that Nigeria, though touted as one of the most religious societies in the world, also took the prize as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

“As leaders,  you are supposed to be the embodiment of the virtues of honesty, integrity, compassion, and goodness.

Olukayode said it was unfortunate that not many of today’s preachers  are living proofs of scriptures.

“Some preach against corruption but have no scruples yielding the front pew at worship centres to people of means whose sources of wealth are questionable.

“Religious titles are also sometimes given to persons of questionable pedigrees,’’ he said.

He also charged religious leaders not to close their eyes to decadent behaviours and ethical rot among the flocks in the bid to guarantee the steady flow of milk from congregants.

“The relevance of the clergy as a moral authority is being questioned by a number of practices. Among these is the emphasis on prosperity rather than righteousness.

“This has created the impression that instant wealth,  irrespective of how it was gotten is approved by God.

“We have seen situations where a  fraudster visits worship centres to testify to the blessings of God after a breakthrough in fraud!

“We have seen politically exposed persons climb altars to testify about how God has used ‘His servant’ to uplift them only to be arrested for alleged fraud a few weeks later.’’

The EFCC chairman also urged religious leaders to lead with care empathy and care for the disadvantage.

Olukayode said where sections of the congregation perceived the leadership as exploiting the congregation to fund their opulent lifestyle, and messages of anti-corruption would not flourish.

“Islam and Christianity of 21st century should go beyond moral instructions into a beacon of hope for the displaced, the distressed and the deprived.

“In other words, religion must not only respond to the spiritual needs of followers but minister to their existential challenges.

He also urged religious organisations to play an active role in the rehabilitation of some youths that had embraced cybercrime through scholarships and other grants by faith-based organisations.

The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Dr Musa Aliyu (SAN) tasked religious leaders on  championing  the fight against corruption and cybercrime.

He equally encouraged  clerics to endeavour to preach harmony, sincerity, and fear of God. (NAN)

By Philomina Attah

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