Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, has said the only way to seriously wage the battle against the menace of corruption in Africa is to mobilize the masses who are the principal victims of corruption to demand accountability from the governments.
Falana challenged Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Africa to lead the battle against corruption in each of their countries when he delivered a keynote statement entitled “How to strengthen African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and NGOs to combat Corruption in Africa” at the African NGO Forum held in Banjul, Gambia.
He regretted that the heads of States of 52 African countries were at Beijing, China last month to beg for a $60 billion loan for the so-called infrastructural development of Africa for the next years. He said the loan is totally unnecessary if the African leaders are prepared “to halt the annual illicit financial flow of $100 billion from Africa.
To stop the leaders from further exposing Africa to ridicule, Mr. Falana urged African NGOs “to link up with progressive political parties, trade unions and mass organisations. Otherwise, the ongoing substitution of European colonialism for Chinese imperialism by African rulers will continue.”
The Senior Advocate further said that “the western media and Transparency International have failed to join the campaign for the repatriation of the looted wealth of the African people. According to him, “if the western countries do not warehouse such loot, corruption by criminally minded politically exposed persons will be greatly reduced.”
Mr. Falana charged African NGOs to be mindful of the fact that “the human rights that we celebrate and glorify are limited to civil and political rights which have become the exclusive preserve of the members of the comprador bourgeois class and their allies who constitute an infinitesimal minority of the African population. Since our national constitutions have guaranteed equality before the law is guaranteed let us resolve to extend human rights to the masses and other economically disadvantaged people by consciously promoting socioeconomic rights including rights to health, education, development and popular control over the natural resources of our countries
He however enjoined the African NGOs to emulate a Nigerian based NGO, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), which has obtained court orders to compel the Nigerian government to educate every Nigerian child, publish the names of looters, account for the loot recovered since 1999, account for the money spent on water and electricity. He commended SERAP for exposing the World Bank which had made false claims in respect of the Abacha loot. In a bid to shield some public officers from prosecution for corruption the Bank had falsely claimed that the recovered loot of $500 million was spent on some projects, as SERAP could not locate the projects it has petitioned the Board of the Bank.