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ICPC AND ITS FALLACIOUS DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION
BY: ONIKE RAHAMAN
Published June 5th, 2014

 

MR NTA EKPOThe statement credited to Mr. Ekpo Nta, the Executive Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) that stealing does not constitute an act of corruption remains a major goof to be committed by a public officer in the recent past. The exclusion of stealing from list of offences constituting acts of corruption by the ICPC portends serious threat to the growth and development of our nation.

Contrary to the popular thinking that Nigeria is corrupt due to incessant stealing of public funds by a few persons, the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency as against popular knowledge pronounced that stealing is not corruption when addressing the delegation from the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria recently. What is not clear is the rationale behind the re-definition of concept of corruption by the ICPC Chairman. But somehow, Mr. Nta was suspected by some sections of the elite to be echoing the position earlier canvassed by President Goodluck Jonathan during the last Presidential Media Chat


Whatever the inner working of the mind of Mr. Nta while addressing his audience that day, he needs to be reminded that the duties of the commission is to investigate, prosecute and interpret the provisions of the ICPC Act, but the agency responsibilities do not include enactment of law or giving definition of legal terms. His action that day was direct contravention of the extant judiciary procedure and principle of justice administration.

   

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Given the premise upon which Mr. Nta arrived at his faulty definition of corruption, one becomes amazed. And this abnormality impels the action of those probing into his pedigree. Even from elementary knowledge of semantic, the word corruption cannot be appropriately defined to the exclusion of theft and stealing of public funds.

The public outcry the issue has generated is as a result of the semantic import of the fallacy committed by the ICPC Chairman. Of course, when meaning is distorted in public communication, ambiguity results and such could have far reaching implications on national orientation and societal value system.

It is unfortunate that the ICPC instead of leading the war against corruption has chosen to encourage it by the controversial statement of the Head of the Agency. As Nigerians, We need to change our approach to war against corruption. In view of the fact that the menace has eaten deep into the fabrics of our nation.

Coincidentally, the re-definition of the word corruption by the ICPC was made the same day the writer of this piece was delivering a public lecture on corruption where emphasis was placed on stealing of public funds as an act of corruption, at a seminar organized by a Non- Governmental organisation called Grassroots Development Initiative Agenda. Strikingly, the participants were confused hearing the tragic statement of the ICPC Chairman same day when he stated that it is an aberration to describe stealing as a constituent of corruption.

And frankly, the status and the position occupied by Mr. Nta gave his stance on the word corruption greater weight. Besides, the youths are likely to be misled, if the statement has not received severe criticism from Nigerians who do not expect such unguided utterance from Anti-corruption czar.

The flawed clarification afterward by the Agency spokesman that stealing is corruption if it involves a pubic officer abusing his office for private gains neither exonerate the Agency of misleading the public nor change the public perception that the headship of the Agency is incompetent. From all indications, the Agency czar seems to be sympathetic to stealing, to have wrongfully defined corruption in a way that suits the idiosyncratic tendencies of corrupt scoundrels in government.

From my knowledge of emerging issues in social studies, theft and stealing are acts of corruption. It therefore sounds illogical for anyone to make an attempt to exclude stealing from the list of offences that constitute corrupt practice.

Given the negative effects the carelessly uttered statement is likely to have on the mindset of the youths, common ground is consequently found for the meaning of the word corruption from etymological, semantic, philosophical and legal perspectives. When the word corruption is viewed from its origin or root, the meaning is not limited to bribery, inducement and abuse of office as Nigerians are made to believe. Looking at corruption from semantic view points, the word is elastic and as such can be stretched to include several immoral acts. Of equal importance is the philosophical basis of corruption as embedded in ethics. In short, any prohibitive act or practice that can make one liable of criminal prosecution fits into acceptable definition of corruption contrary to what the public is made to believe by the ICPC Chairman.

When corruption is viewed from legal perspective either as defined in the Criminal Code Cap C38 of Federal Republic of Nigeria, or the ICPC Act 2000, the Anti-corruption czar has truly erred in his definition of corruption.

Candidly, any action capable of causing pervasion of moral order remains a form of corrupt practice no matter the rhetorical communication skill of the person trying to re-define it.

With the observed conflict between the personality and office occupied by Mr. Nta as Chairman of the ICPC, the best decision in the present circumstance is for him to resign. His continuous stay as Chairman ICPC will encourage thieving in the public service thereby making war against the menace of corruption become more difficult to be won.

Besides, the corrupt scoundrels in both public and private sectors will continue to have field day with the frame of mind of people like Mr. Nta, the Head of the Nationís Anti-corruption Agency.


 
 
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