The Oyo State House of Assembly has recently passed a Law called the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Law 2019 (the "Law"). It was later assented to on 10th December, 2019, by His Excellency, Governor Oluseyi Makinde. The purpose of the law is to establish the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Agency (the "Agency"), to check corruption in the state and other connected matters. In this context, corruption means unlawful gratification given or promised to any person in the performance of his duties.
The Law specifically frowns at moneys, fees, donations, loans, gifts, reward, office, dignity, valuable security, property or interest in property (being property of any description, whether movable or immovable), given or promised to be given as consideration for the performance of a public administrative duty.
2.0 MAJOR PROVSIONS OF THE LAW
The Law generally empowers the Agency to investigate and prosecute matters of corruption in the state. Particularly, it makes the following provisions:
- The Law shall be targeted at Public Officers. For this purpose, "Public Officers" means a person elected, employed or engaged in any capacity in the public or civil service of the State or Local Government and includes Officers of the Judiciary. Impliedly, the provisions of the law do not directly affect private persons in their private capacities.
- The Law specifically states that the Agency shall have power to investigate the administrative acts by any Ministry, Department or Agency of the State or Local Governments or such other Government Parastatals or any statutory corporation, public institution or company set up or owned by the Government or any officer or servant of any of the aforementioned bodies.
- The Law creates corruption offences, including the offences of obtaining property, procuring property, obstruction of investigation, mismanagement of Government revenue, inducement of public officer, bribery for giving assistance regarding contract, official corruption and unlawful gratification.
- It gives power to the Agency to collaborate and synergise with any law Enforcement Agency within the State in questioning, investigating or interrogating any person whose conduct or affairs are under investigation and to partner with the Federal Anti-Corruption Agencies such as EFCC and ICPC in tracking corruption cases in the State and training the Agency's staff on Anti-Corruption related matters.
- The Agency may issue an invitation directed to any suspected persons or any other person who may have valuable information to aid and facilitate the investigation of a claim. The law goes further to places a legal obligation on persons required by the Agency to furnish relevant information, to give the information requested.
- Where the Agency intends to prosecute a corruption matter, the Law states that the Agency shall, after investigation, refer the matter to the Attorney General of the State for prosecution in the High Court of Oyo State. The Attorney General has the power to delegate the power to prosecute to any person or authority.
- The Law provides for seizure of any movable property which is the subject of an ongoing investigation. However, in certain circumstances when any movable property has been seized, it may be temporarily returned to the owner subject to terms and conditions stipulated in the Law to constitute sufficient security, as well as an undertaking to ensure that the property shall be surrendered on demand being made by the officer who authorized the release in the first place.
The Law makes provision for general criminal procedures in accordance with the Constitution in terms of right to fair and speedy trial, as well as the right of appeal and the presumption of innocence. This Law also reiterates the focus of the Oyo State Government to fight corruption in the state especially in the civil and public service of Local Governments and the State as a whole.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.