Abdu, renowned for her dedication to ensuring clinical dispensation of justice to perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence crimes in Gombe State, revealed the challenges associated with her job following her recognition as one of the five integrity icons by Accountability Lab Nigeria in 2022.
Speaking during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja, the legal practitioner said a lot of times people approach her with bribes, especially on cases of gender-based violence.
Abdu said there were instances where she was offered bribes to subvert justice. She noted that her disposition not to compromise on standards over time has been helping to discourage more people from approaching her with bribe offers.
“Bribe is something that occurs daily, and being on the field, specifically on issues of gender-based violence, they (bribes) are things that keep on coming up every day, so yes, I deal with such issues,” She stressed.
On her motivation to be a person of integrity, Abdu said: “I would say it is God and my belief. Secondly, I will say that because of the nature of what I do, I believe that possibly by divine arrangement for me to be able to assist the next person, and most times, when I don’t assist, I find it difficult to sleep, and the third thing is my late dad. He has been one person that has always wanted me to stand out, not to compromise standard in whatever I do.”
Abdu noted that her lifestyle is already severely impacting younger public servants within her sphere of influence, adding that she “plans to encourage and support the younger ones by mentoring them.”
On his part, Strategic Communications Manager Accountability Lab Nigeria, Murkthar Suleiman, said the Integrity Icon Project of Accountability Lab Nigeria aims at the name and fame integrity in the public sector. He disclosed that a total of 1,749 nominations were received this year as persons of integrity as against 1,139 nominees in 2021.
According to Suleiman, public servants nominated for integrity icon awards are subjected to torrid screening, with the main criteria being the consistency of the nominees in displaying integrity on their job.
Explaining why the focus is on the integrity of public sector workers than the private sector, he said,” We prefer people in the public sector space because part of our work is to ensure that good governance works, that the dividends of democracy trickle down to the everyday citizens in the country and each time that we say the system is terrible, the system does not exist in abstraction, there are names and faces that ensure that the system is operational. As far as governance is concerned, the civil service is the system of government in the country.
“The public service holders come, and they go. The political appointees come and they go, the president will come and go, but the civil service will remain. So when we say that the system is having an issue, we know that the system is built with those civil service officers.”
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Suleiman urged Nigerians to ensure they participate in the coming polls and not listen to individuals discouraging people from voting by saying, “votes will not count.”
“People should go out and vote. One of the biggest lies the election riggers have and how they’ve convinced us is that our votes do not count, but they do. To win elections, I need votes. If people do not vote for you or people do not come out to vote, then you cannot rig the polls.
“I think beyond looking at it as getting a person of integrity, we have to look at governance as a structure that encompasses many parts. So it is not just about the president but for the senators and the house members because this is where policies are passed,” Suleiman advised.
Accountability Lab Nigeria is billed to host the 2022 Integrity Icon Awards on December 1, 2022, in Abuja. The 1,749 public servants nominated have been pruned to 5 persons ahead of the awards event.
Mwalin Abdu will join the 4 other integrity icons in search of the coveted winner of the awards in about a fortnight from now.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.