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ICPC tasks professional bodies on ethics, integrity

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ICPC tasks professional bodies on ethics, integrity

By Philomina Attah

The Chairman of the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, called on professional bodies to adhere to national ethics and integrity in carrying out their professional functions.

Owasanoye, represented by commission member Ms. Olubukola Balogun, made the call during a webinar organized by the ICPC for professional associations and professional organizations on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the webinar was aimed at educating and gaining the support of professional bodies and business organizations on the federal government’s National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP).

According to him, the NEIP aims to resuscitate our national values ​​of honesty, integrity, professionalism, patriotism, voice, participation and human dignity.

“It was initiated by the CIPC in collaboration with the secretariat of the government of the Federation and the National Guidance Agency (ANO).

“The policy was approved and adopted by the Federal Executive Council and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 while full implementation started in March,” he said.

Owasanoye said the first phase of implementation started with the engagement of traditional institutions and stakeholders in the six geopolitical zones, adding that the webinar marked the second phase.

According to him, the engagement of professional organizations and business organizations was essential given their role as engines of the national economy.

“It is a known fact that the successful implementation and sustainability of this policy depends to a large extent on the willingness of professional bodies to defend and put into practice these core values ​​contained in the exercise of their professional responsibilities.

“For example, the core values ​​of integrity and professionalism require that professional bodies strictly adhere to the codes of their professional practice with a high sense of responsibility.

“Professional bodies must muster the courage to impose the ethics of their profession on their members by punishing offending members and rewarding those who are deemed honest and blameless.

“If the American Bar Association, for example, could bar a former US president from practicing law and prevent him from appearing in the US Supreme Court because he had brought the legal profession into disrepute.”

“I don’t see why the Nigerian Bar Association wouldn’t take action against offending members and there are many who willfully violate the ethics of the legal profession,” he said.

The CPIC boss, however, praised some professional bodies that had adhered to ethical standards in regulating their profession, urging them to work with CPIC in implementing the policy.

He assured that the commission, in collaboration with NOA, would conduct the grassroots awareness campaign and called on civil society organizations to support the ICPC in this process.

In his remarks, NOA Director General Dr Garba Abari praised ICPC for the design of the policy, adding that the commitment came at a time when the nation needed it.

Abari said the collapse of ethical standards and integrity in the nation was concerning, adding that it had a big impact on the country as a whole.

According to him, the collapse has become so severe and our national development goals can only be achieved if we do something urgently to address it.

He called on all professional bodies and professional organizations to review their codes of ethics with a view to ensuring the quality and compliance with their respective codes.

“We have seen how lives have been lost due to persistent incidents of building collapses, charlatans marching as medical staff, bad prescriptions and the like.

“So it all really has to do with the codes of ethics of different professional groups.

“I hope this will give us the opportunity to sufficiently interrogate these questions with a view to developing applicable solutions to the challenges of ethical standards and integrity,” he said.

He called on civil society organizations (CSOs), religious organizations and families to live up to expectations and play the roles expected of them to bring the country back to the core value of ethics and integrity.

Mr. Okechukwu Ozoechi, who represented the NBA, said the policy was a welcome development, saying ethics remained the main focus of the NBA when it comes to the legal profession in the country.

Ozoechi, while lamenting the collapse of ethical standards and integrity in the system, urged all professional bodies to promote and respect the ethics of their professions in the performance of their duties.

Ms. Ifeoma Okwuosa from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), said that ICAN has aligned itself with the activities of the ICPC in promoting ethical standards at all levels.

Okwuosa said ICAN has ensured that probity and integrity are upheld by its professionals, adding that no nation could prosper without probity and integrity.

(NAN)

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