The Nigerian government has been put on high alert as a series of forgery cases and corruption scandals continue to emerge from Local Government Area (LGA) offices across the country, raising concerns about transparency and security challenges.
The alarm was sounded during the “PUBLIC CONSCIENCE” anti-corruption radio programme, produced by PRIMORG and hosted by Executive Director Kemi Okenyodo. The investigative reports, published by TheCable, have exposed officials in LGAs of Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa, and Abuja blatantly disregarding due process and accepting bribes for issuing certificates of origin.
Kemi Okenyodo emphasised that the lack of integrity in the local government system is a breeding ground for various issues faced by the country and called on the government to take immediate action. She urged the government to shine a spotlight on corruption at LGAs and implement reforms to strengthen the anti-corruption fight at the sub-national level. Ms Okenyodo stressed the importance of better informing and sensitising the public about the process of obtaining a certificate of origin to protect them from extortion.
“The government must make the process of obtaining certificates of origin and other services at the local government level transparent. The information should be easily accessible to the public in a language they understand, enabling them to report any wrongdoing,” she stated.
Ms Okenyodo further urged the government to strengthen the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and utilise data from the National Identification Number (NIN) to build a national data bank. She also called for massive awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the dangers of certificate forgery.
An investigative and multimedia journalist at TheCable, Samad Uthman, corroborated the widespread issue, revealing that trading of certificates of origin and other documents for money was prevalent in LGAs across Nigeria. The investigation found instances of applicants paying significant sums without following the due process in various regions, including Kokona LGA in Nasarawa state and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
“We realised that the situation is prevalent in all parts of the country, especially in the northern and southern regions. Even in border towns in northern Nigeria, the lack of due process is evident,” Mr Uthman explained.
To address these alarming revelations and combat corruption effectively, they called on the government to prioritise transparency, strengthen institutions like the NIMC, and create awareness among citizens about the importance of adhering to due process and avoiding certificate forgery.
“PUBLIC CONSCIENCE,” a radio programme backed by MacArthur Foundation, aims to bring attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria and serve as a platform for dialogue between the government and citizens.
Authorities at both the federal and state levels must act swiftly to tackle this pervasive issue that threatens the credibility of certificate issuance and undermines public trust in government institutions.