EFCC Commences Investigation Into Tape Alleging Malami Influences Corruption Cases

File photo of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced an investigation into a trending audio tape alleging that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, influences corruption cases.

In the tape, an operative of the anti-graft agency, Mohammed Idris, accused the justice minister of compromising graft cases.

“Malami now controls the EFCC. The commission is in his hands. Once Malami speaks, the account will be unfrozen. They are unfreezing suspects’ accounts, including the big cases,” EFCC operative was heard saying in one of the multiple audio recordings obtained by Daily Nigerian.

But the EFCC in a statement on its verified Facebook page on Thursday said it would activate its internal mechanism to deal with the issues arising therefrom.

READ ALSO: EFCC Boss Continues Testimony In Alleged N1.4bn Oil Fraud Case

“Without prejudice to the outcome of the investigation, snippets of the audio recording clearly showed an abysmally compromised officer dropping names to ingratiate his benefactor, a relative of a crime suspect,” the statement read.

“By the alleged action, the said officer is no more than a corrupt fifth columnist with scant regard for the values of the commission.

“The action is contemptuous of the established Standard Operating Procedure of the EFCC. Such professional indiscretion has no place in the new EFCC.

“The commission encourages citizens who encounter any such unprofessional conduct by personnel of the EFCC to report to the commission in support of our quest to build a better agency.”

“Reporting such conducts has been made easy by the Eagle Eye App, a financial crime reporting application which was launched earlier in the year,” Uwujaren further stated.

According to the EFCC, its operations were guided by established professional precepts “which do not support the kind of discretion that could allow for manipulation by external actors.”

Judiciary Will Not Rest Until Corruption Is Stamped Out Of Nigeria – CJN

File photo of CJN, Tanko Mohammed.

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed has vowed that the judiciary would not rest on its oars until corruption is stamped out of the country.

The CJN said this on Tuesday during the third National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

According to him, between 2020/2021, over 756 corrupt cases were handled in the country.

He also added that from January to November this year, 1,144 suspects were convicted of various corruption offences and financial crimes including hundreds of millions of cash forfeitures, alongside eight aircraft, seven fuel stations among others.

Participants attend the third national summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector in Abuja.

 

He further noted that for any nation to prosper, the judiciary must remain independent and insulated from interference (financial or otherwise).

The CJN earlier in November made a call for judges to rise to the challenge and restore public confidence in Nigerians.

He said the judges must dispense justice without fear or favour and in line with the knowledge and understanding of the law.

Mohammed also urged judges in the country to desist from giving incessant ex-parte orders in order not to project the judiciary in a bad light.

 

Israeli Ex-PM Netanyahu Back In Court For Corruption Trial

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives for a court hearing on corruption charges, on November 16, 2021 in Jerusalem. JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s graft trial resumed Tuesday, with his ex-spin doctor due on the witness stand, but the defence has asked the highly-anticipated testimony be delayed.

Netanyahu, now opposition leader in parliament after he was ousted by a broad coalition of rivals in June, arrived at the Jerusalem courthouse without the large security contingent and crowds of rival protesters that were on hand when he appeared as premier.

READ ALSO: Tigray Conflict: Scores Of Children In Hospitals Die Of Starvation

He has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate indictments that collectively accuse him of accepting improper gifts and illegally trading regulatory favour with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.

Netanyahu (C) arrives an Israeli court for a hearing on corruption charges, on November 16, 2021 in Jerusalem. JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

The testimony of his former spokesman Nir Hefetz was expected to shed light on the ex-premier’s dealings with the Bezeq telecommunications group.

In the Bezeq case, considered the most serious, Netanyahu is accused of offering regulatory benefits that could have been worth millions to the company in return for politically advantageous coverage on the group’s Walla news site.

Netanyahu’s lawyers argued they were unprepared to respond to Hefetz’s testimony following recent press revelations about the evidence he might share.

The prosecution has said that while it regrets the recent leaks about Hefetz’s expected evidence, his testimony should go ahead.

Bangladesh Sentences Former Chief Justice To 11 Years In Jail

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

Bangladesh’s former chief justice was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in jail for corruption on Tuesday, in a case that opposition groups and supporters say is politically motivated.

Surendra Kumar Sinha, 70, headed the Supreme Court when it ruled in 2017 that parliament could not sack judges, a move hailed by lawyers as safeguarding judicial independence.

Sinha left Bangladesh in late 2017 alleging he had been forced to step aside following the landmark ruling. He lives in North America where he has reportedly sought asylum.

Campaigners have said his departure was a massive blow to the credibility of the country’s judiciary and accused the government of going after Sinha.

“It was very obvious that the government was angry with him and… was determined to just kill his reputation,” Asif Nazrul, a law professor at Dhaka University told AFP.

Judge Shaikh Nazmul Alam of Special Judge’s Court in Dhaka delivered Tuesday’s verdict, ordering Sinha to serve seven years in jail for laundering money and four years for breach of trust, prosecutor Khurshid Alam Khan said.

“This verdict proved that nobody in the country is above law. Wrongdoings will bring anyone in the trial,” he told AFP.

Sinha was the first Hindu chief justice in the officially secular Muslim-majority nation of 169 million.

He later wrote a book titled “A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights & Democracy” in which he said he had been forced to resign and flee after being threatened by a military security agency.

ICPC To Collaborate With Reps In Tackling Illicit Financial Flows, Corruption

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs
ICPC logo

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is to strengthen its collaboration with the House of Representatives in addressing corruption and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in the country.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made this known on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day capacity building retreat for members of the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, and board members and directors of the Commission held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The retreat deliberated on corruption, IFFs and financing for national development.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Owasanoye stated that regulations were required from the legislature to eradicate corruption and IFFs.

The ICPC boss noted that the regulation of the cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria would help to prevent the swindling of unsuspecting members of the public.

He emphasized the need for more regulations to address IFFs and other related offences, stating that the breaches in the law and absence of regulatory framework have encouraged perpetrators of the crimes to continue to engage in the crime.

This, he added, would strengthen the economy, and lessen the rate of borrowings by the country.

“Nigeria needs regulatory intervention in cryptocurrency trading. Some people trading in cryptocurrency have used the digital currency and assets to engage in corruption, money laundering and terrorism financing. Corruption in digital assets is not easily traceable,” he stated.

He assured the legislators that the Commission would continue to cooperate with them to achieve its mandate of ridding Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive means.

READ ALSO: ICPC Arraigns Ex-NIS Officer Over Alleged Certificate Fraud

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, Hon. Nicholas Garba Shehu commended the Commission for collaborating with the House in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Shehu said, “Corruption has held Nigeria backwards for many years and whatever we can do, we will do to help the fight against corruption. The 9th National Assembly has made the fight against corruption one of its cardinal mandates.

“The House of Representatives stands ready to partner with the ICPC in the achievement of its mandate which is to rid the country of corruption.”

Speaking on the topic “National Security and the Opportunity Cost of Corruption”, Prof. E.E. Alemika of the University of Jos and a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) decried the depletion of critical national resources with renewal due to corruption.

“We are having less and less of what we used to have and not refilling them. We have discouraged productivity, creativity and we are not investing in the real sector of the economy,” Alemika stated.

Prof. Jonathan Aremu of Covenant University gave an in-depth analysis of the topic “Illicit Financial Flows Typologies – Trade, Tax and Oil”, while Mr. George Tyendezwa of the Federal Ministry of Justice explained Cryptocurrencies, Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing Threats.

Another paper on “Public Service and Integrity, including the NEIP” was presented by a representative of the former Chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta.

The two-day event also featured an interactive session between the House of Representatives members and the management of ICPC on ways to improve the operations of ICPC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EFCC Interrogates Ex-Governor Al-Makura, Wife Over Corruption Allegations

Al-Makura Commits To Peaceful Coexistence In Nasarawa
Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura

 

The Former Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, has been invited for interrogation at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

Al-Makura who is now a serving senator was invited on Wednesday along with his wife.

They were being questioned in relation to an alleged breach of trust and misappropriation of funds, allegedly perpetrated during his eight-year tenure as governor.

Read Also: Money Laundering: Hushpuppi Pleads Guilty, Risks 20 Years Imprisonment

Following the questioning, the former governor said contrary to reports, he was never arrested by the EFCC but was invited.

Al-Makura served as governor of Nasarawa State between 2011 and 2019 before he was elected into the National Assembly as Senator representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District.

South Africa’s Top Court To Review Zuma Jail Term

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018, former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges. Former South African president Jacob Zuma must pay back state funds and cover his own costs, a court ruled on December 13, 2018, leaving him facing massive legal bills as he fights graft charges.
Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

 

South African ex-president Jacob Zuma will on Monday ask the nation’s top court to let him out of jail by rescinding its 15-month sentence for snubbing anti-graft investigators.

The Constitutional Court on June 29 slapped Zuma with the prison stretch for refusing to appear before a probe into the corruption that mired his nine years in power.

Zuma is seeking to have that ruling set aside on the grounds that it was made in his absence.

Should the bid fail, Zuma’s team will seek to convince the judges that jail time is not the appropriate punishment for this instance of contempt, due to reasons including the implications for Zuma’s health, according to an information handout for media from the court on Saturday.

Zuma, 79, is also asking to be released from the Estcourt prison in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province on the grounds of his age and ailing health, adding that the ongoing pandemic means he is not a flight risk.

The man once dubbed the “Teflon president”, spent his first night in jail on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities following hours of drama and suspense.

His lawyers had also petitioned the Pietermaritzburg High Court in KwaZulu-Natal to stave off imprisonment. But on Friday it rejected the case, saying it lacked jurisdiction over the matter and Zuma’s claims about his health were “not supported by any evidence.”

The former president testified to the commission once in July 2019, but then swiftly withdrew his cooperation, saying he was offended by being treated as an “accused” and not as a witness.

He returned in November 2020, without uttering a word, and missed several subsequent appointments by evading his summonses on various grounds, including medical reasons, lack of funds and his request to have the chairman of the commission, then-deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself.

If Zuma is to serve the full term, he could still see himself back home long before year-end as he would be eligible for parole in less than four months.

Meanwhile, sporadic violence has erupted in the country, with dozens arrested after looting in KwaZulu-Natal and in the economic capital Johannesburg.

AFP

Embrace Hard Work And Shun Cybercrime, EFCC Tells Students, Corps Members

File photo of the EFCC Chairman Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked Nigerian students and Youth Corps members to embrace hard work and shun any involvement in computer-related frauds.

The Zonal Head of the Lagos Office, Ghali Ahmed, gave the charge on Wednesday during a reorientation programme for tertiary students in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State.

Ahmed, who was represented by the EFCC Head of Public Affairs Directorate in Lagos, Ayo Oyewole, said the warning had become imperative, following the alarming rate of youths’ involvement in all forms of social vices across the country.

“There is no better time to sensitize and encourage our students and youths to shun all forms of criminal tendencies and imbibe desirable attitudes necessary for national development and better future than now,” he said.

“I want you to embrace the virtue of hard work. There is no shortcut to wealth and fame.  Acts of criminality might give you instant wealth, but there will be misery and gnashing of teeth in the end. An ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyle, without corresponding hard work, is perilous.

“You are not to be mere spectators in the anti-graft campaign; rather, you should be the foot soldiers of the fight by becoming change agents and help mould the minds of the younger ones everywhere you go, so that the fight against corruption, economic and financial crimes can be far-reaching.

“It is of great importance to keep reminding you as youths that you are critical stakeholders in curbing corruption.”

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Adeboye Calls For Prayers For Nigeria

Ghali also advised the youth to always deploy their talents and ingenuity to good use, saying the nation would be better off for it.

Meanwhile, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been charged to be change agents in the fight against economic and financial crimes in the country.

The Head of EFCC Benin Zonal Office, Muhtar Bello, stated this today during a meeting with members of the NYSC/EFCC anti-corruption Community Development groups.

The Benin Zonal Head who educated the corps members on the activities of the Commission said the youths have a critical role to play in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

He said, “Corp members are dynamic young men and women whose energy can be harnessed. We want you to become foot soldiers and whistleblowers in areas of your primary assignment. We also want you to become good examples in discipline, transparency,  integrity and accountability because you cannot give what you don’t have.”

He also charged the Corps members to imbibe the culture of excellence as future leaders of the country and to shun all forms of criminality.

EFCC Belongs To All, Not For Anybody – Bawa

File photo of EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) belongs to all Nigerians and not to anybody.

This is according to the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who stated this on Monday while receiving members of a civil society organization, Civil Society Coalition for Transparency and Good Governance at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

While calling on all Nigerians to embrace the fight against corruption, Bawa said the anti-graft agency cannot win the war alone.

“EFCC belongs to all Nigerians and it is not for anybody,” he was quoted as saying via a statement issued by the commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.

 

READ ALSO: INEC To Blacklist Political Parties Over Violent Congresses

“We realised long ago that the work of the EFCC is not something that can be done alone. Civil Society Organizations and Individuals are all stakeholders because Nigeria is the only country we have.”

Bawa also assured that the EFCC will partner with civil society organizations to ensure that “the mandate of the Commission and what we stand for, which is ensuring good governance, is imbibed and the country is rid of corruption.”

Speaking also, the Vice President of CSCTGG, Nse Victor Udeh, lamented the negative impact of corruption on the country.

He said if the country had functional health, education, aviation, road and other infrastructure, “We will have less to worry about,” adding that “apart from scarce resources, corruption is responsible for the failure of public infrastructures.”

“We as civil society are offering ourselves as those who will continue to project the message of ‘say no to corruption’ in whatever form,” he assured.

Court Remands Ex-Power Minister In EFCC Custody Over Alleged Corruption

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

An Abuja High Court has remanded a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corruption.

Wakil, who was arrested by the EFCC at his Abuja residence on Sunday, was arraigned on Monday before Justice Suleiman Belgore on two counts bordering on corruption and abuse of office.

He was arraigned alongside two companies, Corozzeria Nigeria Limited and Pikat Properties Nigeria Limited.

According to the anti-graft agency, the former minister allegedly received N118 million as gratification from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited, out of the N27,188,232,208 approved outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Count one of the charges read; “That you Muhammed Wakil, while being Minister of Power and Managing Director of Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, and Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, on or about 22nd December 2014, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did corruptly receive the sum of N118,000,000.00(One Hundred and Eighteen Million) Naira only through Corozzeria Nigeria Limited’s Polaris Bank Account No. 4010023658 from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited out of the sum of N27,188,232,208.20 (Twenty Seven Billion, One Hundred and Eighty-Eight Million, Two Hundred and Thirty-two Thousand, Two Hundred and Eight Naira, Twenty Kobo) being the sum approved for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria( PHCN), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 8(1)(b)(ii)of the same Act.”

The former minister, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

An application for bail by the lawyer to the defendant, Bert Igwilo, was opposed by the prosecution counsel, Benjamin Manji, who insisted that the defendant has to bring a formal application before the court.

The prosecutor also asked the court to set a date for the commencement of the trial and for the remand of the defendant at a correctional centre, pending trial.

The court adjourned the matter until March 31, 2021, for the determination of bail application and ordered that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the EFCC.

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!