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Lagos Govt. okays anti-corruption agency establishment, to prosecute staff, others

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

As a measure to prevent misappropriation of public funds in Lagos, the State Government has approved the establishment of an anti-corruption agency, to investigate and prosecute public officeholders, staff, and registered contractors indicted for sharp practices across the state.

Like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the agency head would also be appointed by the state governor and it would be subject to the ratification of the State House of Assembly.

The approval for the establishment was made on Monday by the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, after signing the Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill of 2021 into law at the State House, Alausa, Ikeja.

Sanwo-Olu, after signing the bill sponsored by the executive arm of the Government, stated that the agency investigates and prosecute officials of the State Government and registered contractors indicted for economic crimes and financial misappropriation.

He said: “The bill establishing Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission is important legislation critical to the delivery of quality services to the citizens. When we came in, we had said we would be accountable and responsible in the appropriation of the State’s resources. We want to stand in front of the citizens to give account on how public funds are being spent.

“To give credence to this promise, the executive arm initiated the bill and sent to the Assembly for approval. We believe that this law would not only ensure accountability of public funds, responsibility of public office, but also promote dialogue among public officers to keep the trust of the people in the discharge of their duties in line with transparency. The anti-corruption commission will ensure that all approved activities are implemented in accordance with budgetary allocation.”

Sanwo-Olu said the anti-corruption commission would be independent in its operations and functions, pointing out that the agency would complement efforts of similar agencies in the police and federal establishment.

Also, Sanwo-Olu assented to the Lagos State Lotteries and Gaming Authority Bill of 2021, initiated by the executive arm to coordinate activities of lotteries agencies operating within the State.

After the signing of the two bills into law, Sanwo-Olu said the action was a testimony to the State Government’s effort towards entrenching accountability in governance and checking malfeasance among officers entrusted with public resources.

The Lotteries and Gaming Authority Bill of 2021, the Governor disclosed, is to simplify and incorporate technological innovations in the gaming sector.

The law sought to harmonise five gaming and lottery formats, such as casino, jackpot, pool, lotto, and sports betting, thereby regulating the sector and checking fraudulent activities of unregistered game centres within the State.

Sanwo-Olu explained that the former lottery law of the State did not meet the contemporary needs in the industry, which was why the executive initiated the bill to accommodate technology in regulating the business.

“As a forward-looking Government, we are doing the needful to ensure fair play, regulation and monitoring is brought back into the gaming industry. The law is not in any form to stifle investment, but to offer better platform for lottery companies to enhance equity, transparency and make their investment more rewarding,” the Governor said.

The governor reiterated that his Government’s actions would continue to be taken in a way that would boost confidence of the public and promote accountability in governance.

Earlier, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said the two bills signed by the Governor made it 10th legislation sponsored by the executive and passed by the House of Assembly to strengthen good governance. Twenty-six executive bills, he said, have been initiated since inception of the current administration.

He said: “The anti-corruption commission agency to be established is akin to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute misappropriation of public funds in the State. The chairman of the agency will be appointed by Mr. Governor, subject to the ratification of the House of Assembly. If the investigation leads to prima facie case, the offender will be prosecuted in the court”.

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