The Lagos State Government says its anti-corruption commission won’t clash with federal anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
Rather, the state government said its anti-corruption commission was to ease the EFCC and others’ burden of handling multiple anti-corruption cases.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, said this in response to enquiry on the state’s anti-corruption commission.
Asked if the state’s anti-corruption commission saw any friction occurring between it and federal anti-graft agencies, particularly as the state’s commission is expected to take over graft cases involving former governors Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola, and Akinwunmi Ambode from the EFCC and others, Omotoso said there wouldn’t be any friction.
He said, “There will be no friction in the sense that the EFCC is a federal agency. The Federal Government has thousands of agencies and many officials, and the EFCC alone cannot handle them. We also have the ICPC, but their hands are full.
“One thing people don’t understand is that whatever we are talking about is about true federalism. The state must have the power to determine how it’s going to ensure that its resources are not looted.
“And when you talk about the fight against corruption, people always think only of governors and all of that. There are contractors who may not do the job you asked them to do, and they get paid. The state must have an instrument to address that kind of nonsense. That is what the law is all about.
“People feel it’s an attempt to shield some people, and that is just the conjectural imagination of such people. It’s just speculation. The law is to fight corruption in the real sense of it. When people know there is a place where they will be taken to where justice is fast, they will desist from committing crimes.”
Asked if the commission would not be used as an instrument by an incumbent governor to fight their political enemies or opposition, Omotoso said the commission would be independent.
“Everything will be stated in the law setting up the commission. It’s going to be independent. It’s not an instrument by any governor to whip anyone seen as his opponent or enemy.
“It’s truly going to be an instrument to fight corruption and people will see it openly. It is not going to be a political whip in the hands of a sitting governor. The law will ensure that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the commissioner said no date had been fixed yet for the take-off of the commission. He said there was a process to follow before finally inaugurating it. The process is mainly about documentation, he said.
Omotoso said, “We have to be able to do some documentation on who is going to be there, and these must be people of integrity. We have to do background checks on such people. I think the governor is working on these. We are trying to ensure that the right people are there.
“When you are looking for such people, I don’t think you want to rush because it’s barely two months when the law was signed. That is the situation. I think the governor is taking his time to make sure the right system in place. You don’t rush when you have such a sensitive commission.”
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had in April assented to the Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill of 2021 – which establishes an anti-corruption commission in the state.
According to the legislation titled, ‘Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law,’ the anti-corruption agency will have the exclusive rights to investigate financial crimes and corruption cases involving the finances of the Lagos State Government.