Abuja: As part of its contribution to assist Nigeria to stamp out corruption in its public life, the United States yesterday in Abuja said that it is working out modalities to stop prominent Nigerians facing trial for corruption from entering the US.
The decision is purely meant to discourage corruption which reports say is presently rampant among Nigerian public officers.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell who disclosed this yesterday said that visas earlier issued by the United States to them and the adult members of their families would be revoked.
Campbell who spoke at the opening ceremony of a special training organised for the staff of Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) relived with satisfaction a phase in the life of the US when corruption was endemic in the country.
Said he: “anybody who knows the history of US will understand that we had wrestled with corruption in the 19th century popularly called the golden age.
“Our public life was then characterized with corruption. It was the angry citizenry and the free press which was exposing corruption that assisted in fighting the malaise,” adding that corruption was a clog in any nation’s struggle towards enthronement and consolidation of democracy and good governance.
His exact words: “the government of Nigeria is putting commendable effort on eradication of corruption from public life. This has received the strongest support from my government. We have a mutual legal arrangement and we are in the process of getting at the big fish [prominent Nigerians] which the Chairman of ICPC referred to.
“We are in the process of revoking their visas to travel to the U.S. The revocation will include adult members of their families. This measure is to support what the Nigerian government is doing.
“We have sent three veritable investigators to help in this training programme. They will remain with us for some months.
“Nigeria and the United States are partners in a pilgrimage for the establishment of real democracy underpinned by the rule of law.
“Democracy and the rule of law are threatened by corruption,” he added.
While welcoming the ambassador and members on his delegation to the opening of the training programme, Justice Akanbi said the Federal Government of Nigeria had taken giant strides in its fight against corruption.
He said, “Those days people said we were only catching small fishes [average Nigerians].
“But today, we have caught big fishes and they are standing trials in court”.
The special training programme is being sponsored by the US Department of Justice.
It is one of the several assistances rendered by the United States’ Government to ICPC since it was established by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Iseoluwa Ige, Vanguard (Lagos), July 7, 2005