Abuja, Nigeria – On Saturday 29 June 2019, His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has urged colleagues at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Governments to take action on corruption.
“Public probity and accountability are not optional to good governance. We cannot afford to continue to see corruption as a minor inconvenience to ignore just because the thieves may be our own countrymen. As leaders, an adequate response to corruption on such a massive scale is not just perfunctory expression of discomfort at seeing our own nationals named and shamed,” he said, adding that ECOWAS must be alarmed that corruption at that level could undermine the integrity, vision, and efficiency of the Commission and the union.
In a 16 December 2018 press release the report of the Auditor General of ECOWAS Institutions, which was presented to the Council, recommended that the Commission’s Management should oversee a transparent, comprehensive and rigorous forensic audit.
In that regards the President submitted that the Commission re-engaged the external auditors for a further 90-day period to undertake deeper investigations into inconclusive matters and provide a comprehensive report with solid, incontrovertible evidence.
“All persons named in the report stand down from their positions to allow for unfettered investigations. May I remind Your Excellences that at the commencement of investigations, the Sierra Leonean ECOWAS Commissioner for Finance was asked to step down in hopes that Commission would launch a full-scale investigation into the alleged financial impropriety and hold those responsible fully accountable for their actions,” he said.
He also called on the Commission to act with urgency to not only fully investigate the matter but to also act precipitously to avert future occurrences, adding that that could be achieved with comprehensive institutional reforms.
“Corruption is a threat to the governance of the Commission and we must confront it resolutely,” he urged.
On behalf of his colleague Heads of State and Government present at the meeting, President Bio closed by expressing a deep appreciation of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his people for the warm hospitality extended to them in the truly African fashion and for the success of the summit.
“We equally wish to thank him for his commitment to peace, security and good governance and for his remarkable leadership in steering the affairs of our community. We pay him a well-deserved tribute for his contributions as chairman of the Authority, to deepening the integration process in West Africa,” he said.