French Court Convicts Ex-President Sarkozy On Corruption Charges

In this file photo taken on December 10, 2020, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy looks on as he arrives for the last day of his trial on corruption charges at Paris courthouse. Bertrand GUAY / AFP

 

A French court on Monday convicted former President Nicolas Sarkozy on charges of corruption and influence peddling, handing him a three-year prison sentence of which two years are suspended.

Sarkozy was accused of offering to help a judge obtain a senior job in Monaco in exchange for inside information on an inquiry into his campaign finances.

Taking into account the two years suspended, the sentence of one year jail means it is unlikely Sarkozy will physically go to prison, a punishment that in France usually applies to jail terms of above two years.

2023 Polls: APC Governors Forum DG Accuses Transparency Int’l Of Attempting To Influence Outcome

President Muhammadu Buhari with some members of the Progressives Governor Forum in Abuja on June 22, 2020.

 

The Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, has accused Transparency International of attempting to influence the outcome of Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

TI had in its 2020 report of Corruption Perception Index released on Thursday said Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points, ranking 149 out of 183 countries surveyed.

It was the country’s worst rating in years.

TI cited an absence of transparency, nepotism, lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks, the prevalence of bribery and extortion in the Nigerian Police, corruption in the security sector, among others, as reasons for the low rating.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, the PGF DG described the rating as a poor attempt at politicising the fight against corruption.

“For a government that prioritises the fight against corruption to have been condemning in the way the CPI report did, it is not only indicting but troubling,” the statement partly read.

“Given that it is a report of “perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts on the level of corruption in the public sector”, it is important to engage the issue beyond the media campaign going on, which may only be gaining prominence because of the widespread sentiments of Nigerians that every government initiative promotes corrupt practices and every public official is corrupt.

“With or without the 2020 CPI report, this is the belief of most Nigerians. Therefore, the 2020 CPI report only help to advance the gullibility of most Nigerians with a report of the survey of ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts.’”

While citing Andersson and Heywood in the journal of political studies as saying that ‘in politics, the power of perceptions ought not to be allowed to serve as a proxy for reality,’ the PGF boss asked the global anti-corruption watchdog to go beyond perception and expose actual corruption.

READ ALSO: Five Key Reasons Why Nigeria Dropped On Corruption Perception Index

Lukman said that while it is important to stress that no government can be perfect or successfully eliminate corruption, the CPI 2020 report on Nigeria presented a very bad approach to engaging the Nigerian government in the fight against corruption.

“For us to be able to fight against corruption, based on the ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts’, there must be a change of government. This is the underlying narrative in the CPI report. It is basically more of a political campaign if you like for 2023.

“Nigerians, including local leaders of civil society groups and their international partners are free to make their political choices and decisions. But they should be transparent about it. It mustn’t be a case of shadowboxing Nigerian citizens and forcing them to kowtow political choices fraudulently contrived because Nigerian citizens are committed to the fight against corruption!” the statement added.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Politicising Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria

 

Salihu Moh. Lukman

Progressive Governors Forum

Abuja

While revalidating his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on January 30, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari accused Nigerian elites of harassing the government and pleaded with them to be fair in their assessment of his performance by taking cognisance of the state of the country’s finances. No doubt the President must be having at the back of his mind recent attempts by some civil society organisations alleging Nigeria’s poor performance in the fight against corruption. Citing the recently released Transparency International (TI) 2020 report of Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which claimed that Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points in the 2020 CPI, some Nigerians have intensified campaigns alleging that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 149 out of 183.

No doubt such a damning report should be disturbing to every Nigerian, including the President. For a government that prioritises the fight against corruption to have been condemning in the way the CPI report did, it is not only indicting but troubling. Given that it is a report of “perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts on the level of corruption in the public sector”, it is important to engage the issue beyond the media campaign going on, which may only be gaining prominence because of the widespread sentiments of Nigerians that every government initiative promotes corrupt practices and every public official is corrupt. With or without the 2020 CPI report, this is the belief of most Nigerians. Therefore, the 2020 CPI report only helps to advance the gullibility of most Nigerians with a report a survey of ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts.’

Who are these Nigerian businesses and experts? Certainly, the CPI 2020 report would have clarified that. Part of this creates difficulty in establishing the objectivity of their conclusions. Not only in the case of Nigeria, but also with reference to all other countries, the criticism of the CPI report is that it doesn’t take into account the important issue of efforts to fight corruption through prosecution of cases. This is the point, which was identified since 2009 by Staffan Andersson and Paul M. Heywood of Växjö, Sweden and Nottingham, UK Universities respectively, in Vol. 57, 746-767 of the UK based Journal of Political Studies. They noted that CPI only measures perceptions and not reported cases, prosecutions or proven incidences of corruption. In particular, they drew attention that ‘the CPI is a composite index which draws upon a series of surveys mainly aimed at Western business leaders and expert assessment to provide a picture of perceived corruption. Often there are no respondents drawn from the country in question, and the questions posed in many of the surveys relate specifically to business transactions.’ The main focus of the investigation, therefore, is on bribe-takers and not the givers suggesting that bribes are paid to officials on demand and not proactively to secure contracts.

This raises the point about whether the initiative of the government in the fight against corruption is taken into account. For instance, if bribes are collected by government officials, irrespective of whether it was as a result of demand by public officials or proactively done to secure contracts, to what extent are they being arrested? Are there prosecutions? How many arrests and prosecutions were there in 2020 for instance? What is the impact of arrests and prosecutions on the campaign against corruption in the country? Were there cases that should have been arrested but were not? Were there cases of poor prosecution?

These should have ordinarily been the issues that should serve as the focus of public debates with recommendations of what needs to be done in order to strengthen the fight against corruption in the country. Instead, all that we have in the 2020 CPI report are alleged to lack of transparency in Covid-19 pandemic responses, nepotism in public service appointment, lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks and interference by politicians in the operation of law enforcement agencies, the prevalence of bribery and extortion in the Nigerian police and security sector corruption.

Without evidence to validate these allegations, any conclusion will be highly subjective. For instance, if there is a lack of transparency in the management of Covid-19 responses, what are the specific issues? If it is about funding, how much funding has been allocated? How much of the funds are unaccounted for? Who is to account for the unaccounted funds? If it is about procurement, especially now that we are at a stage when the issue of vaccine procurement is a major challenge, how is the government handling it? Beyond vaccine, in other cases of procurement under the management of Covid-19 pandemic, how have the handling of government procurement processes impacted on the management of the spread of the pandemic? Are there cases of embezzlement, misappropriation, or fraud? What is the magnitude of public resources involved in these cases?

The point about nepotism in public service appointments, popular as it may be, is subjective and may require a more holistic assessment of appointments made in order to validate any allegation of nepotism. To that extent therefore conclusions based on perception can only be subjective. The claim about the lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks is outrightly false in today’s Nigeria. It will appear that this is most likely reproduced from old reports of CPI before all the anti-corruption laws that led to the emergence of EFCC, ICPC, etc. since 2001. It is this kind of conclusion that validates criticisms that the respondents used for the CPI surveys are foreigners whose mindset is hardly located in the country.

The issue of the legal framework in the case of Nigeria should be about reviewing our existing laws so as to strengthen the capacity of the country’s anti-corruption agencies to fight corruption. Related to this, is the need to streamline these agencies to make them more efficient. There is also the challenge of reorganisation such that our anti-corruption agencies are insulated from the negative influences of our law enforcement agencies. But to claim lack of adequate legal frameworks will be far off the reality of where we are in Nigeria. It is most likely if one review all the CPI reports on Nigeria since 1995 when the first CPI report was released, these were the same factors identified.

Largely because the CPI report is not about evidential cases of the fight against corruption, sadly, the only issue in the Nigerian media is largely opinion. As a nation, we need to go beyond the opinions of individuals. Why should any serious assessment of the fight against corruption in Nigeria not be informed by the reality that there are more 16 high-profile cases of corruption trials on-going? All the 16 cases are started within the last 5 years under the current administration. Why should it be difficult for any serious local organisation to provide an assessment of the progress being made in prosecuting all these cases in 2020? There were of course corruption cases under the previous administrations under PDP. Therefore, conclusions about Nigeria’s performance in the fight against corruption should take bearing in terms of at least how the fight against corruption under the current administration compares with what obtains under the preceding ones.

How can any report of Nigeria’s fight against corruption in 2020, for instance, completely ignore some of the landmark corruption cases in 2020 such as the order for a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)? If the CPI report is in any way correct that Nigeria dropped three-point in 2020 to 149 from 146 in the world ranking, how come Nigeria gained 15 points on the World Bank ranking of ease of Doing Business, emerging to 131st from 146th? The issue, which is a source of frustration to both the government and every patriotic Nigerian should be the question of what needs to be done to accelerate the process of securing a judgement in corruption trials. This is a matter that would require some reform of our criminal justice system. Without securing judgement leading to the conviction of corrupt public officials, the fight against corruption will be weak in the country. This is not a focus of the CPI. The challenge bordering on the management of our criminal justice system would appear to be responsible for the embarrassing situation whereby although judgements were secured in some corruption cases in Nigeria, which include the cases of Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu and Chief Olisah Metuh, they were reversed by Courts of Appeal and retrial ordered.

These instances of reversal of judgements may confirm cases of interferences by politicians. However, fair assessment of such interferences would have exonerated the government because while in the case Sen. Kalu, he is a member of APC, Chief Metuh is a member of the PDP. To further confirm that Nigerian anti-corruption agencies are not being partisan in the country’s anti-corruption war, just on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, Federal High Court, Abuja ordered the final forfeiture of over $600,000 belonging to former Governor of Zamfara State, Alh. Abdulaziz Yari. Alh. Yari is a member of APC who is being prosecuted by the ICPC. APC being the governing party, if the case of political interference in which the party and the federal government are to be guilty, the case of Alh. Yari would have confirmed it.

The nexus between corruption, underdevelopment and high incidence of poverty in countries with low capacity to fight corruption cannot be disputed. Whereby corruption is high, capacity of government to execute projects of economic development will be weak. As a nation, Nigeria has had its fair share of evidence in this regard. There were mind-blowing cases of corruption between 1999 and 2015. We could recall instances of $6.8 Billion fuel subsidy scam, over N6 Billion Naira Nigeria Immigration Service Scam, $20 Billion NNPC fund scam, N120 Billion Malibu oil block fraud, N20 Billion Pension fund fraud and N10 Billion Diezani aircraft fraud. These were clear cases that diverted huge financial resources, which would have been utilised to execute major developments. All these cases would have definitely confirmed low rating of Nigeria in the fight against corruption between 1999 and 2015. Any conclusion about poor performance should therefore be substantiated with empirical records of instances of corruption between 2015 and now. Nigerian civil society groups who are partners of TI should be able to go beyond perception and expose in clear terms how much has been stolen in 2020 and by who?

No doubt, Nigerians have every reason in ensuring that the fight against corruption is succeeding such that public resources are protected. If records of execution of government development projects is anything to go by, poor performance in the fight against corruption cannot be substantiated. Noting that in the same 2020, the government was able to set aside N50 Billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Household and SME support facility and by July 2020, N49.195 Billion was disbursed to over 92,000 beneficiaries, it difficult not to cite political motives in the CPI reports. Other welfare programmes under the government’s Social Investment Programme have similarly continued. Besides the fact that notwithstanding the contraction of economy caused by the pandemic, the government was also able to inaugurate the commencement of Lagos – Ibadan railway transport, there were many other capital-intensive projects that continued unhindered throughout the year. Could it be that there are reported cases by contractors handling these projects about incidences of bribery given to public officials, which would have inflated the value of these projects? By how much were they inflated? And who are the public officials responsible for the inflation?

In every respect, it is very difficult to reconcile the CPI 2020 report with most of the report about the performance of Nigerian government 2020. Take the case of the Bloomberg report of June 23, 2020, which reported that Nigerian government rules out request for relief in its debt service payment at a time when virtually most African countries were negotiating relief. Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed was reported to have told Bloomberg that ‘Nigeria is not planning to ask for debt repayment deferment for our commercial loans or for our bilateral loans from our bilateral creditors’. A number of these would have been impossible under a corrupt government. Rather, all we will be having would have been excuses why no development has taken place in 2020, especially given the contraction of the economy under Covid-19 reality.

While it is important to stress that no government can be perfect and no government can successfully eliminate corruption, the CPI 2020 report on Nigeria present a very bad approach to engage the Nigerian government in the fight against corruption. It is a poor attempt to politicise the fight against corruption largely because it completely ignores all the empirical cases that should have provide objective indicators for the performance of Nigerian government. Beyond politics is also the funding reality, which has made Nigerian civil society groups to be very aggressive in legitimising the CPI 2020 report in Nigeria.

This support the point made by Andersson and Heywood in the Journal of Political Studies cited above to the effect that ‘There is no shortage of anti-corruption organisations and agencies … but TI enjoys an unrivalled pre-eminence among them, a factor which undoubtedly assists in securing revenue to continue its activities. Some cynics may be tempted to suggest that if TI were to be too successful in prosecuting the fight against corruption then its very raison d’être would disappear; hence it is in the organisation’s interest to ensure that corruption continues to enjoy high visibility. While there is no evidence that those who run TI are anything less than wholly genuine in their commitment to fighting corruption, and for the most honourable of reasons, it remains the case, … that promoting transparency and ‘good governance’ can have unintended negative consequences. TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index has had an enormously influential impact in terms of promoting awareness of corruption, stimulating research into the reasons for its emergence and identifying mechanisms to combat it. Nonetheless, we should not forget that in politics the power of perceptions ought not to be allowed to serve as a proxy for reality.’

There cannot be any better conclusion. The challenge to Nigerian civil society groups and patriots is really to rise above cheap smear campaigns based on perceptions and sentiments. Corruption is not a theoretical issue. It is a very practical challenge. It is beyond the perception of anyone. Where perception is to be our guide, we should be able to confirm it with evidence of reality. If TI can conveniently rely on perception, any serious Nigerian organisation should be able to corroborate perception with empirical cases of corruption. If one is to interpret the Nigeria CPI 2020 report, the conclusion is that the current government of APC under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the fight against corruption. For us to be able to fight against corruption, based on the ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts’, there has to be a change of government. This is the underlying narrative in the CPI report. It is basically more of a political campaign, if your like for 2023. Nigerians, including local leaders of civil society groups and their international partners are free to make their political choices and decisions. But they should be transparent about it. It mustn’t be a case of shadowboxing Nigerian citizens and forcing them to kowtow political choices fraudulently contrived because Nigerian citizens are committed to the fight against corruption!

Corruption Index: Data Missing In Areas Where Nigeria Performed Well – Lai Mohammed

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has faulted Nigeria’s rating in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI), saying it does not truly reflect the great strides by the country in its fight against corruption.

The Minister also believes that there are missing assessments for Nigeria in the data entries where the country has performed well in previous CPI calculations, which has now affected the overall rating of the country over a period of time.

He made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday while assuring Nigerians that the country’s anti-corruption agenda, which has placed great emphasis on corruption prevention measures and the building of integrity systems, remains on course.

In the 2020 index released on Thursday, Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points, dropping to 149 out of the 180 countries surveyed.

The country also went three steps down from the 146 scored in 2019, making it its worst rating on Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index since 2013.

While the Information Minister highlighted a number of efforts being made on the part of the government to curb the corruption in the country, he also lamented the “under-reporting of our ongoing corruption reduction measures”.

Read Also: Corruption Index Not Accurate Portrayal Of Nigeria’s Situation – Presidency

He said having analyzed the 2020 TI-CPI rating for Nigeria, the Federal Government is interrogating a number of issues and discrepancies that have been observed in the rating process, including some data sources in which Nigeria’s scores have remained flat over the past 10 years, reflecting no improvement, decline or fluctuation.

“This is very improbable given the nature of behaviour of variables, which are normally influenced by a variety of factors (which is the reason they are called ‘variables’). In this case, the corruption scores would have been affected by changes in the size and structure of the public sector over the past 10 years, changes in policies and personnel and systems over the period including, for instance, process automation, etc. There is therefore a need to verify that there is no transposition of figures from year to year due to absence of current
data,” the Minister said.

Also, he said, different assessments on the same indicators (for instance corruption in the bureaucracy) by different rating institutions have generated different scores and different rankings across the ranking agencies

“There is a need to understand why these variations occur, and consequently the robustness of the methodology and validity of data,” Mr Mohammed said, adding that there are missing assessments for Nigeria in the data entries where the country has performed well in previous CPI calculations, like the African Development Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment.

“There is a need to understand why scores for this assessment have not been recorded for Nigeria for the past two years, which has had the effect of reducing Nigeria’s cumulative score and ranking relative to countries with those scores included in their CPI for both years,” he said.

The Presidency had earlier reacted to the report, saying it is not an accurate portrayal of the facts on the ground.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, who signed the statement last Thursday, had also said the Muhammadu Buhari administration deserves credit for reducing corruption in the country.

COVID-19, Terrorism, Corruption And Other Challenges Require Concerted International Response – Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja restated the need for the international community to collectively and frontally confront the COVID-19 pandemic and other common challenges affecting the globe.

Speaking at an event to receive Letters of Credence of the new Ambassadors of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina at the Presidential Villa, the President declared:

“We have common challenges that impact so much on our countries, which include Terrorism, Insurgency, Climate Change, Population Explosion, Human Trafficking, Corruption, Poverty, and Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.

“On top of all these, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has come with different strains that pose an additional challenge to the initial outbreak. These challenges underscore the need for the international community to work even more in concert to collectively identify appropriate ways and means to globally resolve these challenges.”

President Buhari also expressed his admiration for the cooperation that Nigeria and the other three countries have enjoyed in other fora.

“All three countries represented here to enjoy excellent multilateral relations with us. In addition to the United Nations, the largest multilateral umbrella platform, we are also members of the G-77 and the South-South Cooperation which Nigeria, Argentina, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have used to advance our collective interests and causes. Nigeria is proud to be associated with these platforms, for they have enabled us to work closely together with the Principal Representatives of these countries.”

The Ambassadors, who presented their Letters of Credence, are Mr. Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa, Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Faisal Ebraheem Alajrafi Alghamdi, the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Alejandro Miguel Francisco Herrero, the Republic of Argentina.

The President reiterated to the Ambassadors the readiness of Nigeria “to work with you all to achieve global peace, food security, and sustainable environment.”

While wishing the envoys a successful tenure, he enjoined them to escalate the current level of relations:

“On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I urge you, in the course of your duties in Nigeria, to build on the successes of your predecessors and enhance the existing fraternal relations between our countries,” the President said.

Speaking on behalf of others, Ambassador Ihab Moustafa expressed appreciation to the President for receiving them and accepting their letters of credence.

He assured of their commitment “to work with Your Excellency’s government to further enhance and strengthen our countries’ friendship and partnership with the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will count on your kind support and guidance to this end.”

READ ALSO: Corruption Perception Index: Nigeria Drops To 149, Worst Ranking Since 2015

President Buhari receives Letter of Credence from Ambassador of Arab Republic of Egypt H.E. Mr Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa in State House on 28th Jan 2021.

President Buhari receives Letter of Credence from Ambassador of the Argentine Republic H.E. Mr Alejandro Miguel Francisco Herrero in State House on 28th Jan 2021.

President Buhari receives Letter of Credence from Ambassador of Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia H.E. Mr Faisal Ebraheem Alajrafi Alghamdi in State House on 28th Jan 2021.

 

SERAP Asks Buhari To Probe Missing ₦3.8bn In Health Ministry, NAFDAC, Others

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to “probe allegations that ₦3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”

SERAP in a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, called on President Buhari to direct the Minister of Justice/Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to commence an investigation into the alleged stolen funds.

According to the organisation, the allegations are documented in Part 1 of the 2018 audited report released last week by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

READ ALSO: NAF Conducts Joint Combat Search, Rescue Exercise Along Kaduna-Abuja Highway

The group also wants the President to “promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme, and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.

“Corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja spent without approval ₦13,910,000.00 to organize a 2-day Training and Bilateral discussion with Chief Medical Directors and Chairmen Medical Advisory Council and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to prepare 2019 Personnel Budget. ₦4,860,000.00 was originally budgeted for the programme.

“The National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) paid ₦48,885,845.00 for services not rendered and goods not supplied. According to the Auditor-General, NAFDAC used fake and fictitious receipts for these payments. NAFDAC also paid ₦25,734,018.49 to companies/firms who were never awarded any contracts and never executed them.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

‘Probe missing N3.8bn in the health ministry, NAFDAC, others’, SERAP tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe allegations that N3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”

The organization said the allegations are documented in Part 1 of the 2018 audited report released last week by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

The organization is also urging him to “promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme, and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.”

In the letter dated 2 January 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians, and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to SERAP, “The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja spent without approval N13,910,000.00 to organize a 2-day Training and Bilateral discussion with Chief Medical Directors and Chairmen Medical Advisory Council and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to prepare 2019 Personnel Budget. ₦4,860,000.00 was originally budgeted for the programme.”

SERAP said: “The National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) paid N48,885,845.00 for services not rendered and goods not supplied. According to the Auditor-General, NAFDAC used fake and fictitious receipts for these payments. NAFDAC also paid N25,734,018.49 to companies/firms who were never awarded any contracts and never executed them.”

The letter, read in part: “Investigating and prosecuting the allegations of corruption by these institutions would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators, as well as serve the public interest.”

“Any failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and to recover the missing public funds would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation, the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the UN Convention against Corruption, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“Similarly, the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Management Board Aro-Abeokuta, Ogun State failed to account for N28,662,265.32, which was to be used to procure drugs, implants, and other inputs, as approved by the Federal Government. The Auditor-General wants the money returned to the treasury.”

The National Health Insurance Scheme spent N355,510,475.00 on projects between 2016 and 2017 without appropriation. The Scheme also spent N32,299,700.00 to provide ‘financial medical assistance’ to individuals who have not been enrolled in the scheme (NHIS).”

“The Scheme also spent N72,383,000.00 on verification exercise without any supporting documents. The Scheme awarded contracts of N66,798,948.12 to members of staff for procurements, instead of making the procurement through the award of contracts.”

“The Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Enugu, Enugu State paid N5,200,000.00 as salary advance to the Medical Director. However, the Medical Director was neither proceeding on transfer, on posting nor on the first appointment to qualify for a salary advance. The Auditor-General is asking the Medical Director to refund the money collected. Another N3,387,139.00 is said to be missing but the Hospital management has failed to report the case, or recover the money.”

“The Irreal Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua Edo State paid N58,829,426.84 to two contractors for supplies and installations but without payment vouchers.”

“Also, Jos University Teaching Hospital Jos, Plateau State failed to remit N333,386,549.15 being 25% of its internally generated revenue of N1,333,546,196.60 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Hospital also failed to account for N8,572,777.25.”

“The Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, failed to remit ₦945,422,478.23 to appropriate tax authority. The Hospital also failed to remit ₦237,007,828.05 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and failed to remit ₦22,307,735.21 being withholding tax deducted from contracts in 2018.”

“The Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State also failed to remit ₦8,519,506.75 being 25% of its internally generated revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Medical Centre also spent ₦542,877,312.77 as personnel cost between 2015 and 2016 instead of ₦12,761,350,337.00 appropriated for the same period.

“The Medical Centre failed to account for ₦898,076,719.14 of its internally generated revenue and failed to account for ₦23,598,074.38 of personnel cost. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Abuja spent without approval N19,564,429.91 as estacode allowance to the various staff of the Agency.”

“The Federal School of Occupational Therapy, Oshodi, Lagos failed to remit ₦3,250,962.98 of its internally generated revenue for 2018 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The School also failed to remit N4,018,252.81 being funds deducted from various contracts. It spent ₦10,507,393.00 without any appropriation or approval.”

“The Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa State failed to remit N2,147,036.00 of its internally generated revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It also failed to remit N5,810,438.05 to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.”

“The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria failed to remit N68,604,040.68 of its internally generated revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”

“Allegations of corruption in the health sector undermine public confidence in the sector and obstruct the attainment of commitments made through Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, Goal 16 to create effective and accountable institutions. The allegations also show that Nigeria is failing to fulfil the obligations to use its maximum available resources to progressively realize and achieve basic healthcare services for Nigerians.”

“We would be grateful if your government would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the health sector.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, and Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

 

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

3/1/2021

Lagos, Nigeria

Makinde Inaugurates Anti-Corruption Agency In Oyo State

Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde

 

The Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has inaugurated the state’s anti-corruption commission with a strong warning and mandate for zero tolerance for corrupt practices.

The board is made up of seven members led by the Chairman, Justice Eni Esan, a retired judge and former President of Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal while the secretary of the board is Mr Ibrahim Oyemonla Tijani, the Director, Ministry of Justice.

The governor while inaugurating the board of the commission in Ibadan, the state capital said that the commission will have no political bias.

The governor warned against all forms of corrupt practices, noting that the establishment of the agency was to sanitise the public/civil service and ensure that everyone carries out their responsibilities without corruption.

It will be recalled that the bill for the establishment of the agency was forwarded to the House of Assembly shortly after Makinde assumed office in 2019.

The governor said: “The journey to this inauguration formally started about a year ago with the signing of the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Law 2019. The law is primarily directed at sanitising the public/civil service and ensuring that both public and civil servants at both the state and local government levels carry out their responsibilities without institutionalised corruption.

“With the inauguration of the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Agency, OYACA, we are sending out a clear message here in Oyo State. We have zero-tolerance for corruption. So, any person, elected, employed or engaged in any capacity in the public or civil service in Oyo State, who accepts or promises to accept money, fees, donations, loans, gifts, or any other reward for rendering a service to members of the public will be investigated and be made to face the full wrath of the law.

“It will no longer be business as usual. Public/civil servants are called to serve, not to steal. And I trust that the members of OYACA will do all within their powers to ensure that all matters brought to their attention are judiciously handled. There are to be no sacred cows. Anyone who runs afoul of this law will be prosecuted swiftly,” he said.

Governor Makinde implored residents of the state to take advantage of the anti-corruption agency to duly report any civil or public officer demanding a bribe or any form of gratification to render services.

He described members of the agency as people with high integrity and pedigree and urged them to continue to maintain their standard of integrity, saying: “I ask that members of this agency continue to maintain the track records for which you were picked individually.

Next EFCC Chairman Should Come From Outside Police Force – Justice Salami

 

Justice Ayo Salami, the chairman of the panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption against the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, has recommended that the next head of the anti-corruption agency should come from outside of the Police Force.

He made the recommendations on Friday, after presenting to President Muhammadu Buhari a report by the panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption by the Attorney General and Minister Justice, Abubakar Malami, linked to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

According to him, the four previous chairmen of the EFCC since inception were from the police, so an opportunity should be open to persons from other law enforcement or security agencies as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004.

Justice Salami believes this will help the commission better reposition itself for greater effectiveness.

Read Also: I Want Nigeria To Be Counted Among Countries That Don’t Tolerate But Fight Corruption – Buhari

“Four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception, have been drawn from the police.

“Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of the EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and core staff of the EFCC as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004,” he said.

“It is also important to point out that there are 970 policemen, 114 drivers and 641 mobile policemen and 215 operators on secondment to the EFCC.

“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of no promotion of core staff for over nine years. For over nine years, some of the core staff are stagnant in one position which is unhealthy and is creating some sort of rivalry between the police and the core staff of the EFCC. Your excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing, other than a core EFCC staff should be in transitional capacity of two years, during which period arrangement can be made for appointment of the core EFCC staff who had proven themselves commendable”.

President Muhammadu Buhari had inaugurated the panel in July and it was given 45 days to carry out the assignment but the time frame was extended further after the panel requested for more time.

Algeria Jails Ex-President Bouteflika’s Secret Daughter For Corruption

Algerian ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika at a polling station in the capital Algiers during polls for local elections. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

A prominent Algerian businesswoman, allegedly an illegitimate child of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison after being convicted of corruption.

An Algiers court also fined her six million dinars ($47,000) and ordered the confiscation of her properties, the official news agency APS said.

It said Zoulikha Nachinache, widely known as Madame Maya, was found guilty of money laundering, influence peddling, squandering public funds and illicit transfer of foreign currency abroad.

In the latest corruption case of the post-Bouteflika era, the court at the same time sentenced two ex-ministers, Mohamed Ghazi and Abdelghani Zaalane, as well as a former police chief, Abdelghani Hamel, to 10-year jail terms.

Nachinache’s two daughters were also jailed for five years.

The businesswoman argued in court that she was close to Bouteflika through her father who had been a friend of the president since before Bouteflika took office in 1999.

Her downfall came in July 2019, barely three months after Bouteflika’s ouster, when security services found a treasure trove during a search of her home in an upscale suburb of Algiers.

Investigators seized some $900,000 in Algerian dinars, 270,000 euros ($317,000), $30,000 dollars and 17 kilos (34 pounds) of gold jewellery.

Several ministers, senior government officials and businessmen have been convicted of corruption, including the elderly ex-president’s brother, Said Bouteflika, since he resigned in April 2019 under pressure from mass street protests against his two-decade-long rule.

AFP

FG To Investigate Alleged Diversion Of N2.67bn Meant To Feed Students

File photo: Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

 

The Federal Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the alleged diversion of funds meant for a school feeding programme into individual accounts.

Ministry spokesman Ben Bem Goong revealed this in a statement on Tuesday.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had earlier reported that the sum of N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies found its way into individual accounts.

“In response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors,” the Education Ministry statement said.

“This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM and other requirements to access the payment platform.

“The Principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID 19, some of which are still pending, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.

“The investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.

“To this end, the Ministry in line with the Ministers directive is to collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency.”

Alleged Corruption: Maina’s Trial Stalled, Again

A file photo of Abdulrasheed Maina.

 

The trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform task team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, has again been stalled following his absence from the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Mr Maina on 12 counts of money laundering involving about N2 billion.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang was also absent.

However, Senator Ali Ndume, who guaranteed Maina’s bail and told the court on Friday that he could no longer find the defendant, was present in court.

After waiting for over an hour, lawyers and litigants present in court were told by an official that court will not be sitting as the trial judge was indisposed.

The official later announced that, on the instruction of the judge, all pending cases are to be adjourned till October 6.

Mr Maina’s absence from the court is the fourth in a row since September 29. when his trial was scheduled to resume in the court’s new legal year.

Magu Never Admitted Guilt, Beg Probe Panel For Mercy, Says Lawyer

Former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu

 

Wahab Shittu, the counsel to the suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, on Tuesday said his client never admitted to the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

In a statement, Shittu dismissed a report that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy, describing it as misleading.

According to the legal practitioner, the ex-EFCC boss did not admit guilt to corruption allegations, neither did he plead for mercy.

“At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is the conviction of his innocence,” Shittu said.

“A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client.

“I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.”

Shittu said that as Nigerians wait on the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.

The lawyer argued that the preoccupation of the inquiry is to reveal the truth without grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatisation or any attempt at coloration of the truth.

The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.

The ex-EFCC boss appeared before the panel last Friday to defend himself.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Magu’s closing remarks to Salami panel twisted-Wahab Shittu

Our attention has been drawn to a misleading story in a certain online medium with a misleading headline – Magu confesses, Begs: I Was Overzealous as Acting Chair of EFCC, Please Save My Career.

We wish to state that this story was twisted fundamentally out of context by my client’s accusers who want to hit back at my client without justification.

It is true that Magu and my humble self -addressed the panel at the conclusion of his defence while Magu clarified that he threw himself to the job of acting chair because of his passion for the anti-corruption war, a situation that may be alleged overzealousness in some quarters.

He however pleaded for justice and fair-play by the panel members in the context of his overall achievements and his fledging career which hitherto remain unblemished and will terminate in two years’ time.

Counsel to Magu also urged the panel members in the interest of fear of God and loyalty to their conscience to ensure justice in the matter and concluded by thanking them for patience and understanding throughout the proceedings.

At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is his conviction of his innocence.

A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client? I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.

As Nigerians wait on the Justice Salami- led judicial commission of inquiry to do justice in this matter, we call on commentators in the public space to comment based on facts and law and particularly based on the justice of the case.

The Judicial Commission Inquiry inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 3rd July 2020 “……..For the Investigation of Mr Magu Ibrahim, The Ag. Chairman Of The EFCC For Alleged Abuse Of Office And Mismanagement Of Federal Government Recovered Assets And Finances From May 2015 To May 2020” has progressed appreciably with a lot of work and sacrifices by the members and all those connected to the inquiry.

The main preoccupation of the inquiry is to unearth the truth and nothing but the truth with no grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatization, or any attempt at the coloration of the truth. This is the major concern of all Nigerians. On Friday 25th of September 2020 after days of sittings, Mr. Ibrahim Magu the subject of the inquiry rendered all his defence in the proceedings, and ever since that development, a lot of stories have been flying around in the public space. The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half-truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space.

The above is the compelling need for these interventions as a law officer in the temple of justice who witnessed most of the proceedings from the beginning and actually served as counsel to the subject of inquiry.

In this intervention, I intend to be as fair and objective as possible owing my loyalty to the fear of God and my conscience.

Signed

Bar. Wahab Shittu

If We Do Not Kill Corruption, It Will Murder Nigeria – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for collaborative efforts in tackling corruption, saying if the menace is not curbed, it will kill Nigeria.

Buhari stated this on Monday during the second National Summit of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the inauguration of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

“As I have often reminded Nigerians, ‘If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” President Buhari said.

The President also recalled efforts he made as Military Head of State, stressing that he introduced the War Against Indiscipline (WAI).

“As a military Head of State, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their office or misused public funds to account.

“Furthermore, I introduced the War Against Indiscipline, one of whose cardinal objectives was promotion of our cherished culture of ethical conduct, integrity and hard work,” he said.

The President is of the opinion that when the three arms and the three levels of government work together, the government will be enabled to serve the country with the positive impact felt by the citizens.

The theme of the summit is “Together against corruption”.

The inauguration is to mark the commission’s 20th anniversary and Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary.