Experts train North West CBOs, journalists on new corruption tracking techniques

A training programme aimed at strengthening the capacity of Community  Based Organisations, (CBOs), bloggers, anti-corruption agencies  officials and media practitioners on new techniques of tracking
corruption and illicit wealth began in the North West city of Kano on  Monday.

Foreign experts joined by local resource persons led scores of  participants on technical and legal skills needed in the global  anti-corruption war. The training, which began in Kano, will also take  place in Abuja and Port Harcourt in coming days.

One of Nigeria’s   anti-corruption groups, Human and Environmental  Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), which organized the training  with the theme “Experts Training and Advocacy on Tracing and Recovery of  Illicit funds and Assets”, said, Nigerians needed to take over the
campaign against corruption and therefore own the process. He said the  training empowers individuals and community driven groups to deal with corruption without necessarily relying on existing institutions for  sources of information at all times.

Two experts from Europe, Nick Hildyard and Christian Erikson led the  training on how participants could explore the internet to track illicit  weapons acquired by public officials. Other supporters of the training
programme are: The Corner House, Finance Uncovered, Kent Law School,  Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, MacArthur Foundation, OSF/OSIWA among others.

The training covered technical areas including but not limited to Asset  Recovery Materials, How to Draft Complaints, how to spot and detect  money laundering, Making Freedom of Information Requests (FOI),
Obtaining Company Registration Document, search for property records  among many others.

A new dimension was brought to the anti-corruption training when one of  the United Kingdom-based experts, Mr. Nick Hildyard said London remains  one of the leading corruption centres in the world where billions of  illicit funds pass through every year, blaming the trend on official  complicity by political office holders in the UK.

He said, corruption is a virus while the people are the anti-bodies  necessary to fight and exterminate the scourge.

Speaking at the session, HEDA Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said  corruption is a major problem that requires constant anti-vice  innovations by the citizens. He said one of the most strategic ways of
fighting corruption is to empower the people to act on their own. He  said, stability and sustainable livelihood in Nigeria depends on the  capacity of Nigerians to fight corruption.


“There is a link between corruption and violence. For instance, Kano and  the North West are some of the victims of violence. In the face of  institutional anti-corruption efforts, people are damning the law.
Corruption has impact on utilities like water, roads, security which  Nigerians are being made to privately pay for individually. This means  that the government is eroding her responsibilities. Money is allocated  for services not rendered. We can checkmate this by fighting corruption.  Public officials are building personal homes and investing in huge  projects. It is time to ask questions about corruption.” Suraju said.

Hildyard stated “I have been working on human rights and corruption for  about 40 years. You may think UK is a very uncorrupt country, but London  is one of the money laundering centres of the world. What we have in UK  is legal corruption. We need to work together. We all need to get  involved. It’s remarkable what a small group of people can achieve.” He  said in the UK, the group he leads has been described as “a small dog  with a very large bite”, adding that Nigerians can replicate the same
strategy of making corrupt people and institutions restless.

Hildyard said further “Our efforts have led to changes in UK, including  legal amendments. Corruption is a virus and citizens coming together,  they are the anti-bodies. You may think that tracing assets of
corruption is a difficult thing to do, it is but it is not an impossible  task. It’s our job to use the internet to work on tracing illicit  assets.”


Representative of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct, Zephaniah Bulus  said every time Nigerians keep talking of corruption. “Corruption is  behavioural. On a daily basis, it forms the negative aspects of our  life. While looking for illicit assets, there are liabilities. There  should be responsibilities according to law, There are public officers  that must declare their assets. This is stipulated in Section 52 of the
Nigerian constitution. The law covers public officers in the Executive,  Legislative and the judicial arm of government.”


He said Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau stated that public  officers must declare their assets immediately after taking over office  and that there should be declaration in every four years whereas any  statement in any declaration that is found to be false is a breach of  the Code of Conduct Bureau. Other resource persons at the session were  Prof Shehu Abdullahi, Mr. Emmanuel Anyaegbunam, Mr. Y. Z. Yau, Nurudeen  Ogbara, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi and Prof Deji Adekunle.

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