Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Level of corruption is high in Nigeria, NBA admits

DECEMBER 9 every year is the International Anti-Corruption Day. It is a day set aside all over the world by the United Nations to mark the campaign against corruption. The global theme for this year’s International Anti-Corruption day is “Zero Corruption-100% Development”.
  International Anti-Corruption Day reincarnates all the efforts, crusades, and campaigns against corruption by all stakeholders, including a strong coalition of governments, business community, civil society organisations, academics and media to resist corruption, and build culture of prevention and integrity.
  According to Transparency International, corruption is the abuse of public trust for private gain. Corruption may take a number of different forms, including and not limited to bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation patronage systems or nepotism, among others.
  With regards to Nigeria, it is obvious that the level of corruption is high. The level of endemic corruption in Nigeria is alarming. This alarming height of corruption in the country is not made any better or easier by the recent publication of the 2013 Corruption perception Index of Transparency International. According to the said report, Nigeria is the 33rd most corrupt country in the world.
  Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is regrettable that in spite of all the efforts against corruption in Nigeria and in spite of all the anti-corruption institutions in place, Nigeria is still rated very low in its fight against corruption. So the question that should be agitating our minds today is what are we to do about it? This is because it is not enough to be saying that there is corruption. And this is why I commend the NBA Anti-Corruption Commission for choosing the topic for today’s event which is “The Legislature as a vanguard for anti-corruption crusade”, which serves as a pointer to the legislative role in the anti-corruption crusade. In doing so, the NBA Anti-Corruption Commission identified a very important and veritable institution that can play a pivotal role in the crusade against corruption. This can be deciphered from the pragmatic and realistic topic, which brings to the front burner of national discourse, the role of the Legislature in the campaign against corruption.
The role of the Legislature in the crusade against corruption
In the entire process of nation building, the role of the Legislature has remained paramount. Just as there could be no government without the law or Constitution, there could be no government without the makers of the Constitution.
  Regrettably, in Nigeria, the impact of the Legislature in national development has not been felt, essentially because that arm of government has not been allowed to take root due to the incessant forays of the military into politics.
  With the 30 years of military rule and no history of accountability, the culture of legislative practice and process in Nigeria is relatively young and fragile. There is, however, an opportunity to chart a new course in democratic legislation in Nigeria, one that is responsive to the people and concerned with national development, and enacting laws that will enthrone good governance and trigger economic development.
  Globally, most of the Legislative Houses are strategically positioned and empowered to tackle corruption through legislation, participation in regional and inter-regional seminar that fosters the exchange of information on anti-corruption techniques, law and research.
  In Nigeria, the role of the Legislature in the fight against corruption is tripartite, which means that there are three major roles the Legislature should be involved in, in the quest to reduce corruption to its barest minimum and they are as follows:
The major fight against corruption is carried out through the process of lawmaking. Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) provides that the Legislature is empowered to make laws for the good governance of the nation, which include enacting anti-corruption legislation that criminalises corruption and provides for appropriate punishment for offenders.
Oversight Function
By virtue of Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Legislature is empowered to conduct investigation or oversight the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged or intended to be charged with the duty of, or responsibility for (a) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, (b) disbursing and administering money appropriated by the National Assembly.
  In the current dispensation, the National Assembly has conducted several investigative hearings by inviting government agencies like the Bureau of Public Employment, Ministry of Aviation, NNPC, among others, to ascertain or probe their activities within a given period in order to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution of their powers, or funds appropriated to these agencies. Regrettably, not much has come out of these; rather we have had scandals and all sorts of stories, fuel subsidy probe, power probe, among others.
The Legislature in Nigeria has been interfacing with Civil Society Organisations in the fight against corruption and collaborating with them in the area of Legislative Advocacy down to their constituencies. The 7th National Assembly has committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Values. In the House of Representatives, they have Public Accounts Committee of both Houses, through which it carries out this struggle to tackle corruption in Nigeria.
From the foregoing, the Legislature has enough constitutionally endowed powers to fight the scourge of endemic corruption in Nigeria and can make all the difference.
  The Nigerian Bar Association calls on the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly to utilise their immense legislative powers, not only to strengthen existing anti-Corruption Laws and Institutions, but also to consider the enactment of new anti-Corruption Laws in Nigeria.
  But for the Legislature to effectively play a positive and result-oriented role in the fight against corruption, it is important that it is independent. Legislative independence is key to a result-oriented Legislature process in a democracy.
  Just as independence of the Legislature is key to the success of enacting anti-corruption legislations, independence of the Bench and the Bar is no less crucial in the anti-graft campaign. The Bar has been very active and proactive both in words and in deeds, in the crusade against corruption. It was for that reason that we set up the NBA Anti-Corruption Commission. I commend this Commission under the leadership of Malam Yusuf Ali (SAN) for the good work they have been doing so far.
Independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption
There is no doubt that the Constitution has assigned to the judiciary and by extension, the legal profession an extremely difficult and delicate role. As a fall-out of this role, the desired end is justice and this dish must be served with some accompaniments, which must include expeditious and inexpensive trials and the easy availability of redress for parties aggrieved. The problem of overloaded court dockets is indeed one that must be tackled head-on and better results would be achieved if the Bar and the Bench work collaboratively.
  Government must recognise that the judiciary is the Third Arm of government in any civilised society. 
  Accordingly, the independence of the Judiciary must be guaranteed and secured. To secure the independence of the judiciary, government must grant to it true financial autonomy, and a full self-accounting status. The funds of the judiciary must be released to it as soon as the same is approved in the budgets of the Federal and State Governments. The personal emoluments of judicial officers, together with their other conditions of service, should be enhanced to make them commensurate with that of their counterparts in England, from where Nigeria derived its legal system.
  The NBA reiterates that government must recognise that it is only the existence of a virile, fearless and independent judiciary that can fight corruption and the maintenance of law and order. It must be recognised that only a corruption-free Nigeria will provide the enabling environment for foreign investments, economic growth and social development.
  Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is important to point out at this juncture that apart from the Legislature, the Judiciary plays a significant role in the anti-corruption crusade. But for the Judiciary to fight corruption effectively and efficiently, it has to be strong, virile and financially and institutionally independent. This means that the independence of the Bench and Bar is key to the campaign against corruption. This is because it is only when the Bench is well funded and independent that it can be bold and courageous to impose adequate punishment for perpetrators of corruption. But when the Judiciary is underfunded and perceived to be weak, those who thrive in corruption will continue in their fraudulent acts with impunity believing that nothing will happen.
  On the other hand, judges must be men of probity and of impeccable character. No aspect of a judge’s conduct should give cause for concern. He or she must show the highest sense of discipline and good behaviour. It is the duty of every judge to present to the nation a judiciary, which the people of this country can be proud of. Corruption is one major topic being freely discussed at every forum in Nigeria and sadly, the Bench is not isolated. This is a monster that has wrecked untold havoc on the socio-economic fabric of the nation. The judiciary cannot, like the ostrich, hide its head in sand and pretend not to have read in very recent times in the newspapers the criticisms and allegations of corruption, lethargic attitude to work and the incompetence of some judges.
  The problem of corruption or lack of integrity is not with the Bench per say but the whole Nigerian society. One may argue that it is extremely difficult for systems and institutions to function with integrity in an environment that is corruption-infested. The painful thing however is when the judiciary, which is held in the highest esteem, is also allegedly inflicted with the virus.
There is a general feeling that high profile cases never make it through the Nigerian court system. Serious crimes carry a slap on the wrist and petty sentencing, while petty criminals get maximal penalties. Compare corruption punishment in Ghana, South Africa, and China to Nigeria and one sees why Nigeria will remain an object of mockery in the international community. Before, Nigerian judges made their marks all over the world. Most judges still have their education but the morality and ethical aspects have been expunged from their lives’ experiences. The general pervasive sentiment among the citizenry is that almost all the three areas of the government are corrupt: Executive; Legislature and Judiciary. If the public loses respect for the Bench, society may gradually be creeping back to the days of jungle justice as less and less persons and institutions will be willing to entrust their disputes to judges. As judicial officers, a series of temptation come but the ability to resist them will definitely stand out the judge and earn him a lasting reputation. If judges endeavour to live up to the letter and spirit of their oath of office and the code, corruption may become a thing of the past.
  With regards to the Bar, the Nigerian Bar Association has speared no effort in weeding out corrupt lawyers in the legal profession through our disciplinary mechanism. I am pleased to say that within the last one year, a total of 11 lawyers have been disbarred from the legal profession. Only last week, two more lawyers were disbarred and two suspended. We strongly believe that the series of disbarment will serve as deterrent to potential corrupt legal practitioners.
  I must here state unequivocally that the fight against corruption is not easy, especially in Nigeria. In situation of endemic corruption into which Nigeria has been plunged, it will not be easy to fight corruption. But it is gratifying to note that we have started somewhere.
  Most importantly, the legal framework and institutions need to be reformed. It is the Legislature that has responsibility to do so backed by a strong political will of the President of Nigeria. Of equal importance is the need for re-orientation of Nigerians. The NBA believes that a perfect blend of institutional and social design holds the answer to corruption in Nigeria.
  The NBA calls on all stakeholders in the anti-corruption crusade not to forget the essence of marking the International Anti-Corruption Day. It is a day of wake-up call to keep up the good fight. It is a day to remind us of our responsibility to campaign against corruption. Taking back what is lost to corrupt leaders is everyone’s responsibility.
This speech was delivered by Okey Wali (SAN), president, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on December 9,
2013, to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

German Firm Fined $32m for Bribing Nigerian Officials

In continuation of the Willbros Inc bribery saga, a German Engineering Firm,  Bilfinger SE based in Mannheim has been fined $32 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bribing some Nigerian government officials.

The firm, an international engineering and services company bribed the officials to secure and retain contracts related to the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) project, which was valued at approximately $387 million.

According to court documents, from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger in collaboration with Willbros Group Inc. and others conspired to pay bribes of more than $6 million to the government officials to secure the EGGS contracts.

According to a recent statement issued by the US Department of Justice in Washington, Bilfinger and Willbros formed a joint venture to bid on the EGGS project.

They inflated the price of the joint venture’s bid by 3 percent to include the $6 million bribe.
"As part of the conspiracy, Bilfinger employees bribed Nigerian officials with cash that Bilfinger employees sent from Germany to Nigeria. At another point in the conspiracy, when Willbros employees encountered difficulty obtaining enough money to make their share of the bribe payments, Bilfinger loaned them $1 million, with the express purpose of paying bribes to the Nigerian officials," it read.
The US Acting Assistant Attorney General, Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

They disclosed that as part of the agreed resolution, the department on December 11 filed a three-count criminal information in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas charging Bilfinger with violating and co
nspiring to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.
"The department and Bilfinger agreed to resolve the charges by entering into a deferred prosecution agreement for a term of three years. In addition to the monetary penalty, Bilfinger agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, continue cooperating fully with the department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months. The agreement acknowledges Bilfinger’s cooperation with the department and its remediation efforts," the statement read.

It continued: "Including today’s (December 11)  action, the department has filed criminal charges in the Southern District of Texas against three institutions and four executives and consultants in connection with the EGGS bribery scheme:
Several Willbros officials have already been tried and convicted for bribing Nigerian government officials..

" On Sept. 14, 2006, Jim Bob Brown, a former Willbros executive, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract and in connection with his role in making corrupt payments in Ecuador. Brown was sentenced on Jan. 28, 2010, to serve 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $17,500 fine."

"On Nov. 5, 2007, Jason Steph, also a former Willbros executive, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract. Steph was sentenced on Jan. 28, 2010, to serve 15 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine"

" On May 14, 2008, Willbros Group Inc. and Willbros International Inc. entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $22 million criminal penalty in connection with the company’s payment of bribes to government officials in Nigeria and Ecuador. On March 30, 2012, the government moved to dismiss the charges against Willbros on the grounds that Willbros had satisfied its obligations under the deferred prosecution agreement, and on April 2, 2012, the court granted the United States’ motion"

"On Dec. 19, 2008, Kenneth Tillery, a former Willbros executive, was charged with conspiring to make and making bribe payments to Nigerian and Ecuadoran officials in connection with the EGGS project and pipeline projects in Ecuador and conspiring to launder the bribe payments. Tillery remains a fugitive. The charges against Tillery are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."

"On Nov. 12, 2009, Paul Grayson Novak, a former Willbros consultant, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one substantive count of violating the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract. Novak was sentenced on May 3, 2013, to serve 15 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $1 million fine."

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Group Assesses Nigeria's Anti-Corruption Compliance With UN Convention

A group known as Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) has vowed to help wipe out corruption from the system in Nigeria.
The vow was made at a one-day validation meeting in Lagos to Assess Nigeria's Anti-corruption compliance with United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in preparation for Nigeria's Country Review Mechanism, with support from British Council Anti-corruption Component.
Speaking on the objectives of the meeting, the National Secretary of ZCC, Mr. Babatunde Oluajo, noted that the validation meeting was aimed at assessing, reviewing and publishing the extent to which Nigeria's anti-corruption initiatives conforms to the provisions of the UNCAC.
He also stated that the views expressed at the validation meeting were aimed at engaging with the UNCAC review team for Nigeria in line with the earlier report on the UNCAC review process for Nigeria and the value of the CSO Report on Nigeria's Implementation of the UNCAC.
He noted that the review lays emphasis on criminalisation, enforcement and international cooperation as part of Nigeria's country review as provided for in the fourth year round of reviews under the UNCAC state parties review mechanism. Oluajo explained that at the end of the meeting, several observations and recommendations were made, which he noted, could serve as a remedy for tackling corruption in the country.
According to him, "The processes of prosecution of anti-corruption cases require a fast-track administration of justice system at both the trial and Appellate Courts. Also there is the need to make Anti-corruption agencies operational effective in every state and local government recognised in the Constitution.
"Apart from the various statements of government functionaries during swearing in ceremonies at both states and federal levels warning that acts of corruption will not be tolerated, it appears the statement is observed only in the breach. "Even basic administrative steps capable or reducing and minimising corruption particularly in the conduct of public affairs is yet to be put in place by the various governments," he added.
Continuing, he noted that "Most of the enabling statutes are not strong enough to act as service deterrents. This is especially so if the laws are placed side by side with specific measures under Article 12. "The absence of synergy between the different agencies has resulted in duplication of roles across the agencies and increases the bureaucracy involved in determining which crimes are punishable by them, or under which laws to charge the specific offence," he added. Speaking on the recommendations made, Oluajo said: "The laws should be infused with international character such as those of the foreign corrupt practices act and the UK Bribery Act to ensure there is no hiding place for criminals and their proceeds of crime whether or not they are physically present in those jurisdictions. "There is need to amend to Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to remove the immunity clause that prevents the prosecution of certain public officials while still in office.
"There is also need to amend Section 174 of the constitution to remove or limit the powers of the Attorney General to withdraw corruption related cases or fetter the powers of the specialised agencies assigned the task of prosecuting cases of corruption in Nigeria."

Take a Stand on Corruption Fight, Coalition Tells Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has been urged to take a stand and live by example on the fight against corruption in the country.

The President was also enjoined “to stop romancing corruption which is the bane of our development or else Nigerians will hold him as the first enemy of the Nigerian Project.”
The calls were contained in a communiqué jointly issued in Abuja by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) as the world marked the International Anti-Corruption Day recently.

The communiqué, with a theme ‘Zero Corruption – 100 per cent Development’ also called on the federal and states governments to make special efforts to detect corruption in their businesses in order to achieve meaningful development. 

International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for political leaders, governments, legal bodies and lobby groups to work together against corruption by promoting the day and the issues that surround this event. On this day anti-corruption advocates organise events to engage the general public to effectively fight against corruption and fraud in communities.

According to the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), who signed the communiqué, “Corruption is an issue that affects all countries around the world. It undermines democracy, creates unstable governments, and sets countries back economically. It comes in various forms such as bribery, law-breaking without dealing with the consequences in a fair manner, unfairly amending election processes and results, and covering mistakes or silencing whistleblowers (those who expose corruption in hope that justice would be served).

“The solution to Preventing and combating corruption requires a comprehensive approach, but only in a climate of transparency, accountability and participation by all members of society. Such as; governments, the private sector, the media, civil society organisations and the general public need to work together to curb this crime.

According to Global Integrity Group, a Washington - based corruption monitoring organisation, $129 billion was “fraudulently transferred out of Nigeria in 10 years.” Converted into naira, this figure stands at N20.6 trillion stolen from Nigeria by public office holders in 10 years.”

To Rafsanjani, “Anti-corruption measures need to be integrated into development planning processes. The development partner’s work on governance around the country aims to strengthen the national institutions and processes needed to build trust, improve responsiveness and accountability, and mobilise resources for development.

“Taking back what was lost to corrupt practices is everyone's responsibility - governments and civil society organisations, the private sector and the media, the general public, and youth who will play a pivotal role in seeing this agenda through so that their future is built on solid and honest foundations”, the communiqué added.

“However, corruption afflicts all levels of governments, undermining social progress and breeding inequality and injustice. When desperately needed development funds are stolen by corrupt individuals and institutions, poor and vulnerable people are robbed of the education, health care and other essential services”, the coalition lamented.

It also called on government to take strong measures to prevent political corruption in the country, and insisted that government must cut down waste and duplication of resources as contained in the budget as a measure of detecting corruption risks in governance.

“ZCC/CISLAC is calling on the government of President Jonathan to carefully study recently released Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as a reality check, confirming that the country’s fight against corruption has lost track.

“We are calling on the government of President Jonathan to see to meeting the basic needs of Nigerians by prioritising and demonstrating its expressed commitment to fight corruption. That as a matter of seriousness urgently ensuring the effective prosecution of those suspected of massive corruption in the fuel subsidy reports”, the coalition added.

It also demanded that all outstanding corruption reports, including the House Committee report on the subsidy racket, must be fully implemented and perpetrators effectively punished.

It called for an independent investigation to be conducted into the numerous cases and corruption charges lying pending against public office holders. Notable in case are the ones involving the Aviation Minister, and the most recent case of SURE-P, which warranted the resignation of the Chairman.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

US Fines Julius Berger N5.1b For Bribing Nigerian Officials

The United States Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have confirmed that construction giant Julius Berger’s foreign affiliate Bilfinger SE, has agreed to pay N5.1 billion ($32m) penalty for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Bilfinger SE, German-based international engineering and services company, was charged with bribing Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain contracts related to work for the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS). A project valued at $387 million.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

As part of the agreed resolution, the department Tuesday filed a three-count criminal information in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas charging Bilfinger with violating and conspiring to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. The department and Bilfinger agreed to resolve the charges by entering into a deferred prosecution agreement for a term of three years. In addition to the monetary penalty, Bilfinger agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, continue cooperating fully with the department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months. The agreement acknowledges Bilfinger’s cooperation with the department and its remediation efforts.

According to court documents, from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with Willbros Group Inc. and others to make corrupt payments totaling more than $6 million to Nigerian government officials to assist in obtaining and retaining contracts related to the EGGS project. Bilfinger and Willbros formed a joint venture to bid on the EGGS project and inflated the price of the joint venture’s bid by three percent to cover the cost of paying bribes to Nigerian officials. As part of the conspiracy, Bilfinger employees bribed Nigerian officials with cash that Bilfinger employees sent from Germany to Nigeria. At another point in the conspiracy, when Willbros employees encountered difficulty obtaining enough money to make their share of the bribe payments, Bilfinger loaned them $1 million, with the express purpose of paying bribes to the Nigerian officials.
On September 14, 2006, Jim Bob Brown, a former Willbros executive, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract and in connection with his role in making corrupt payments in Ecuador. Brown was sentenced on January 28, 2010, to serve 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $17,500 fine.
On November 5, 2007, Jason Steph, also a former Willbros executive, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract. Steph was sentenced on January 28, 2010, to serve 15 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

On May 14, 2008, Willbros Group Inc. and Willbros International Inc. entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $22 million criminal penalty in connection with the company’s payment of bribes to government officials in Nigeria and Ecuador. On March 30, 2012, the government moved to dismiss the charges against Willbros on the grounds that Willbros had satisfied its obligations under the deferred prosecution agreement, and on April 2, 2012, the court granted the United States’ motion.

On December 19, 2008, Kenneth Tillery, a former Willbros executive, was charged with conspiring to make and making bribe payments to Nigerian and Ecuadoran officials in connection with the EGGS project and pipeline projects in Ecuador and conspiring to launder the bribe payments. Tillery remains a fugitive. The charges against Tillery are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

On November 12, 2009, Paul Grayson Novak, a former Willbros consultant, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one substantive count of violating the FCPA in connection with his role in making corrupt payments to Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EGGS contract. Novak was sentenced on May 3, 2013, to serve 15 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $1 million fine.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and its team of special agents dedicated to the investigation of foreign bribery cases. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Laura N. Perkins of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

PM News

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Corruption Destroying Our Economy – Okonjo-Iweala

Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday said corruption was destroying the nation’s economy and called on the nation’s private sector to support the federal government in its war against corruption and other areas of economy where  wastages occur.
The minister who made the appeal  during a Breakfast Dialogue with the Private sector organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, said the problem of  corruption, theft and wastages has constituted an albatross to the country’s rapid development.
Okonjo -Iweala at a meeting that attracted business moguls and technocrats like  the richest man in Africa Alhaji Aliko Dangote, founder of  Visafone Communication Limited, Chief Jim Ovia, Chairman Stanbic IBTC  Mr. Atedo Peterside, the Managing Director of Bank of Industry Dr.  Evelyn Oputu, among others lamented that  government was not getting enough support from the private sector in terms of robust policy implementation
“Corruption is a serious issue for us because it is destroying our country, eating deep into the fabrics of the economy, we can’t have infrastructure and development with these level of corruption.”
“We are not helpless, but we need your help to grow the economy and it will begin with the private sector joining hands to help government fight corruption, mismanagement and waste in government.
“It begins with you to say I would not pay bribe, not only will I not pay, I will report to authorities, also by  supporting those trying to fight corruption, not castigating those trying to fight it, where we are not doing well point it out to us, anywhere you see wastage report to us,  we would do something about it,” she added.

The minister added that the fight was not for one individual or government noting that corruption was also rampart in the private sector.

“We need to have the courage to start the corruption fight, fighting corruption is not an easy thing, because you risk a lot of things but you must continue to fight it, she decleared”
Harping on the state of the nation’s economy the minister whose presentation dwelt on “ Nigeria : Macroeconomics Performance And Outlook For 2014 “ said Inflation was 7.8% at the end of October showing a continual downward trend for the 10th consecutive month, down from 12.3% in December 2012 .


As Corruption Deepens, EFCC Chases Rat In Imo State, by Peter Claver Opara

Last week, Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watchdog released its ranking of world corruption index among countries. Nigeria was ranked the 25th most corrupt nation on earth. This was a drop from the 27th position it occupied at the last ranking. To most Nigerians who are living witnesses and victims to the pervasive culture of corruption which has, under the Jonathan regime, been elevated to directive principle of state policy, this was a conservative rating and a flattering of a system that now rests solely on corruption. It is trite saying that corruption has completely overwhelmed the country as no day passes without stories of mind boggling corruption reported in all the sectors of the country’s governance.

From the over N2 trillion fuel subsidy scandal to the looting of the pension fund, from the purloining of the police pension fund to the financial fraud going on in all federal ministries and parastatals, from the gargantuan oil theft scandal, which according to government officials, poses serious threat to the nation’s economy to the sordid details of the cleansing going on in the ant-infested oil industry, from the revelation that N500 billion had been stolen from the ludicrous SURE-P fund to the disclosure by the Customs Director General that the country lost a whopping N603 billion to abuse of import waivers between January and September this year, from the Aviation scandal otherwise known as Oduahgate to the now trending allegation of massive stealing of kerosene subsidy, from the looting of the excess crude account to the emptying of the foreign reserves, it is one long and endless story of bizarre stealing, looting and corruption, which has come to define the face of the Jonathan government.

The audacious plundering has retched up a new breed of novou riche Nigerians, most with no known means of livelihood and some with well known criminal history. These have moved in to buy private jets, acquire massive landed properties and veered off into the new fad, which is ownership of universities. Conversely, Nigerians pass through the worst form of deprivation in the history of the county as life hovers on the barest of levels. The level of want in Nigeria is best captured by a recent World Bank report, which states that about 130 million Nigerians live bellow two dollars a day! This is an incriminating report for a country that had been harvesting unflagging oil boom for the past fourteen years the PDP has been in power. Strange enough, President Goodluck Jonathan, assailed on all fronts by wide scale criticism of his tolerant attitude to corruption, told Nigerians that our greatest problem is not corruption but ethnicism. Even recently, an anti corruption group in Switzerland, Berne Declaration revealed that the NNPC and a group of Nigerian and international oil traders dupe the country in the sale of Nigerian oil. The group revealed that Nigeria was short changed of over $6.8 billion between 2009 and 2011!

One would have expected the overwhelming reports of wholesome looting of the country’s resources to overstretch an anti corruption agency like the EFCC. One would have expected the prison walls to be overstretched by the number of culprits held in respect of these criminal plundering. But not for the present EFCC. No one has been arrested, least of all prosecuted for these mind boggling acts of economic crime. No one is questioned, except when Nigerians rose up with heightened anger to protest the decision of the Jonathan government to pass the cost of the fuel subsidy scam on Nigerians through increased prices of petroleum prices. Jolted by the massive outpouring of Nigerians against such effort, the EFCC said it was going to take in and prosecute the fuel subsidy thieves. It moved in to pick one or two of them and these were quickly released and there the story ended. Of course Nigerians still pay for the prodigality of these thieves through high prices of petroleum products. They were merely rattled and left to continue plying their trade in a mock trial aimed to deceive the long suffering Nigerians. Of the other cases of monumental corruption listed above, the EFCC has not even betrayed any whimper of knowledge, talk not of arresting any person to answer for these infractions. And the sordid plundering continues in reckless and more audacious impunity.
Last week, Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was to raise an alarm of what he called unrelenting EFCC harassment of the officials of his government. To those conversant with happenings and politics of Imo State, this alarm was long in coming as the EFCC seems to have relocated to Imo State for the sole purpose of harassing, intimidating and distracting the purposeful government in Imo State so as to make the state pliant for the return of the rapacious PDP whose 12 years tenure in Imo governance left the state despoiled, traumatized and prostrate. It is this disheveled story that the Rochas government has boldly been addressing since 2011 when he wrestled the entire armada of the PDP to get to power. Since then, neither the PDP hierarchy, the Jonathan government nor the dislodged mandarins who ate down the state in twelve years have rested in trying to re-launch the good old days of wanton free loading. The PDP, which has been pining and ruing the loss of the feel good days is being commissioned by the presidency, eager to boost its sagging flanks, to launch a warfare in Imo State and the EFCC is the arrowhead of the war. That was the message Okorocha was sending when he raised the alarm and discernible Imo citizens know this fact. They know that EFCC has made it a duty to make ceaseless rounds in Imo State, arresting officials at will based on the many specious and outlandish petitions the moths and rodents that people the state PDP generate against the state government.

Imo State for the nearly three years Okorocha has been in power, has been one of the laudable stories of recovery from the waste laying between 1999 and 2011. All sectors have been targeted in a massive effort to recover the years eaten away by the locusts and the state has picked up its pieces from where Mbakwe left it. 305 brand new model schools are being built all over the state, state pupils in primary, secondary and state owned tertiary institutions are enjoying a historical free education replete with other accompanying accoutrements, all the decayed roads, streets in Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe have been recovered, rebuilt and remodeled while fifteen kilometers of rural roads have been constructed in each of the 27local councils in the state. Twenty seven modern hospitals are being built in the 27 local councils in the state while all the colonial relics and kitchen lines that formed the face of government buildings for the period the PDP renters wrecked the state, have all given way to modern edifices and structures that compliment a modern civil service. Employment and jobs are being created and filled in through the community councils that targets even and effective distribution of resources to all the communities in the state. These are few of the land breaking features of governance which never existed in Imo for the twelve years the PDP, through such amorphous groups like apex leaders, stakeholders, god fathers, etc despoiled the state ate down the state.

The Imo state chapter of the PDP and its national hierarch are not pleased with the good fortunes of Imo people and that is why they have sworn to ensure that Governor Okorocha does not nick a re-election. It does not matter if they have nothing, just nothing, to advertise as their achievement in power for twelve years while Okorocha has a bountiful harvest to show for his brief tenure at Douglas House. They now live in forging frivolous petitions against the regime and trusting the EFCC which has become the political hatchet dog of the PDP to launch an unending war against the Imo government. They freely boast of this even when they have pending questions of what they did with the twelve years allocation of Imo State still shoveled under EFCC’s bulging carpet. They believe that by 2014, when Governor Okorocha would be standing for re-election, they would have mutilated his achievements and soften the ground for their comeback but they are gravely mistaken for Okorocha is etching his achievements in indelible imprimatur and in the minds of the ordinary Imo man and this will defy the erasing capacity of the minions in PDP. It is instructive that the funding for these nefarious operations in Imo State is from the well heads of corruption that has been opened in the present government, as reported above and which should form the primary business of an EFCC concerned about the culture of corruption that is ravaging the country at present.

I am not against directing the klieglight on those in power and this should be made clear. I however believe that such klieglight should be on real and provable cases of economic crimes-the type being perpetrated under the nose of the EFCC by the federal government, which is threatening to bury Nigeria at present. Since the EFCC started its self-deceitful fancy ride round Imo, it is yet to publish any worthwhile report that indicts any Imo government official and it has not brought any official to prosecution yet it won’t stop and attend to the overwhelming evidences of corruption that mire the PDP federal government because it is a mere hatchet in the hands of PDP. Running rings in Imo where evidence of prudent management of state resources is even obvious in the sheer volume and impact of projects that have been undertaken these past two and half years, is like searching for needle in a haystack. Nigeria is being ran aground by corruption and the EFCC knows this. It is rather preoccupied with chasing rats all round Owerri in deference to the consuming narrow interests of the present PDP government while Nigeria crumbles. We wish them luck but they should remember that whenever the history of the sordid present is compiled, they should expect to be rightly captured on what they did to encourage the rot of the present.

.Oparah writes from Ikeja, Lagos.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Jonathan encourages corruption in Nigeria, Speaker Tambuwal says

The speaker presented a paper at the NBA conference.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has stated that President Goodluck Jonathan is encouraging corruption in Nigeria by his handling of corruption cases.
“The President’s body language’ seems to be encouraging corrupt practices in the country,” the speaker said.
Mr. Tambuwal said the executive arm, headed by Mr. Jonathan, has failed to act on corruption cases revealed by the National Assembly.
He spoke while responding to questions on Monday after he presented a paper titled the ‘role of the legislature in the fight against corruption in Nigeria’ at a one day roundtable to mark the international anti-corruption day organised by the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in Abuja.
“Take the subsidy probe, the pension, the SEC probe and recently the bullet proof car cases. After the House of Representatives did a diligent job by probing and exposing the cases, you now see something else when it comes to prosecution.
“In some cases, you have the government setting up new committees to duplicate the job already done by the parliament. Take the bullet proof cars case, the NSA, with all the security challenges confronting the country, should not be burdened with a job that can best be handled by the anti-corruption agencies,” he said.
He also said the government has no business setting up any administrative committee in a corruption case that is clear to all Nigerians, in apparent reference to the committee set up by Mr. Jonathan to probe the N255 million car scandal involving the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah. The three-man presidential committee had since submitted its report to Mr. Jonathan, with the president taking no action.
“What the President should have done was to explicitly direct the EFCC to probe the matter. With such directives coming from the President, I am sure we still have good people in EFCC who can do a good job,” Mr. Tambuwal said.
“By the action of setting up different committees for straightforward cases, the president’s body language doesn’t tend to support the fight against corruption.”
While lamenting what he described as the selective nature of prosecution of cases by the anti-corruption agencies, Mr. Tambuwal pledged the support of the national Assembly in the fight against corruption.
Below is the excerpt of the speech he earlier read at the event.
1. I should like to start by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Anti-corruption committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for assigning me the role of Guest Speaker at this auspicious occasion of the 2013 International Anti-corruption day observance.
2. The subject matter, corruption, is so vast that to attempt to address it generally will take ages. Accordingly, therefore, I have decided to restrict my discussion today to “the role of the legislature as the vanguard for anti corruption crusade in Nigeria”
3. As a phenomenon, corruption is so notorious that it does not require introduction at an occasion or definition in a discussion such as this. The mere fact that corruption has been able to secure a whole day globally set aside for the observance of the prosecution of war against it confirms it’s notoriety beyond doubt. It also establishes the fact that corruption is a global citizen.
4. Nonetheless, for purposes of refreshing our memories, corruption refers to dishonest or illegal behaviour or conduct especially by powerful people. It is the impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle and a departure from what is pure and correct.
5. Even though the tendency has been to talk of corruption more with reference to persons in position of governmental or managerial authorities, in reality corruption permeates all segments of society and indeed all societies since government and authorities are products of societies. It must be admitted though, that the level of prevalence differs from society to society.
6. For us in Nigeria, the reality that no greater challenge than corruption confronts us as a people is not in controversy. Indeed if the roots of the overwhelming majority of our woes were traced, they are sure to terminate at the doorsteps of corruption. This is a commonplace fact known to all Nigerians and requiring no corroboration. Yet for the avoidance of doubt, it is important to state that in its 2012 Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International ranks Nigeria as the 36th most corrupt country globally! Nigeria placed 139th of the 176 countries assessed scoring 27% in contrast with the least corrupt countries; Denmark, Finland and New Zealand which scored 90%.
7. A survey of the social media showed that 98% of Nigerians who commented not only agreed with the country’s corruption ranking but in fact felt Transparency International was too generous to Nigeria. A few of the comments read: “We don’t need a report to tell us what we already know” another “Wow, I taught (sic) we were No.1, I wonder what country (SIC) are before us. We all need prayers and serious fasting for our nation”. The other “to be fair, I always thought Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world” yet another “Me too… 35th is actually being nice”.
8. A list of manifestation of corruption especially in the public sector of Nigeria is legion ranging from direct diversion of public funds to private pockets, contract over-pricing, bribery, impunity, nepotism, general financial recklessness, fraudulent borrowing and debt management, public assets striping, electoral fraud, shielding of corrupt public officers among others.
9. It is a well established fact that corruption thrives well in any environment or society where there is community indifference or lack of enforcement policies. Societies with a culture of ritualized gift giving where the line between acceptable and non-acceptable gifts is often hard to draw. Societies in which values have been overthrown by materialism, societies in which laws are observed more in the breach.
10. It would appear that these environmental preconditions are all prevalent in the Nigerian society and no wonder therefore that corruption has found fertile soil to blossom.
11. As noted earlier, corruption is Nigeria’s greatest problem and a cancerous impediment to any development effort planned or envisaged. It follows then that if Nigeria is to witness true development, then corruption must be dealt with decisively and comprehensively. It is a duty requiring will, zeal and passion on the part of the three arms of government and indeed the entire citizenry.
The Role Of The Legislature.
12. The legislature plays three basic functions in a democracy, to wit Legislation, Representation and Oversight. It is within this scope of authority that the legislature can and indeed does impact on governance and can thus participate in the prosecution of the war against corruption in Nigeria .
13. Under the legislative function, Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides to the effect that the National Assembly shall have the power to make laws for peace, order and good government of the country. More specifically, under Section 15 (5) of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, it provides, “The state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office”. Again in Section 2 (2) (b) and (c)’ government is enjoined to harness the resources of the nation for the common good and to prevent the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.
14. The responsibility of fashioning the legal framework for the fight against corruption and corrupt practices is thereby vested in the legislature.
15. In the exercise of this mandate, the National Assembly has enacted, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2002 and The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission Act 2000′ for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting Public Officers and other persons suspected of involvement in corrupt practices. In both legislation, the Commissions are given extensive powers of investigation and prosecution to deal with all cases of corrupt practices and abuse of office that may arise.
16. With respect to the specific objective of injecting transparency and accountability in the management of the resources of the nation, the National Assembly enacted the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and the Public Procurement Act 2007. Both legislations make copious provisions aimed at engendering transparency and accountability in the public space.
17. I make bold to say that if the provisions of these legislation and indeed others were diligently enforced, significant milestones would have been accomplished in the fight against corruption and corrupt practices in Nigeria. Sadly however these Legislations are observed more in the breach by the majority including government and government agencies.
18. I am pleased to report that the House of Representatives is currently working on some proposals for the reform of these laws with a view to reinforcing the independence of the agencies administering these laws including their mode of constitution and disbandment. I wish therefore to call on members of the NBA and indeed all Nigerians to prepare to buy into these reforms by making their inputs now or when the time comes for Public Hearings.
19. One other area which has been of great concern is the culture of undue secrecy that surrounded the operation of government. Whereas our Constitution enjoins in its Section 14 (2) (c) that ” the participation of the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution” government business tended to be run like secret societies to the exclusion of the citizenry. It was clear that this tended and was indeed intended to aid the concealment of corruption such that even in times of suspicion, members of the public including gentlemen of the fourth realm could not access public information.
20. The National Assembly has passed the Freedom of Information Act 2011 to enhance the right of access to public records and information about public institutions. This is one Legislation that attracted massive public interest and it is my expectation that Nigerians will make maximum use of the right created under this legislation in order to defeat the culture of undue secrecy in the running of government business.
21. The other function of the legislature is oversight of the other arms of government. Section 88 mandates the National Assembly to investigate the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsibility for
i) Executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly or
ii) Disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly
The main object of investigation according to sub section 2 (a) and (b) of Section 88 is for law reform and to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws or administration or disbursement of public funds. Similar provision is made in Section 128 of the constitution for legislatures at the sub-national levels.
22. Another critical role of the Legislature is the provision of adequate funding for Anti Corruption Agencies through appropriation. Unfortunately efforts to exercise this function by the legislature is often misconstrued by the executive arm and even some members of the public. Yet without adequate funding the anti corruption agencies cannot execute their functions satisfactorily. I wish to call on the other arms of government and indeed the general public to corroborate with us in the exercise of this mandate .
23.It is in exercise of this mandate that the House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly has been carrying out oversight of government agencies and series of investigations or probes over allegations of corruption and corrupt practices. As you are all aware, the legislature has over the years exposed several cases of corruption.
24. It is important for me to stress once again at this stage that the mandate of the legislature is to expose corruption. It does not have further mandate to prosecute. That mandate of prosecution lies with the Executive and Judiciary. I have heard public comments to the effect that the public is tired of investigation by the legislature since the people indicted in their findings are never prosecuted and sanctioned.
25. Let me reiterate that the Legislature will not abdicate its responsibilities on the account of inaction or negligence of another arm of government. If nothing else we will at least continue to name and shame. As noted earlier, the war against corruption is the responsibility of all and I call on the citizens of this great nation to rise in the exercise of their constitutional power to insist on the prosecution and sanctioning of persons indicted by the Legislature or by any agency whether public or private concerned in the fight against corruption.
26. In the exercise of the mandate of oversight the legislature is able to audit both pre and post expenditure of agencies of government and to give appropriate direction on the administration and disbursement of funds and execution of programs and projects under the Appropriation Act. Indeed the Public Accounts Committee of both the House and Senate has the specific mandate to review the disbursement and administration of public funds by ministries, Departments and Agencies.
27. As representatives of the people, Legislators will continue to be for all Nigerians their eyes to see, ears to hear and mouth to speak out against corruption anywhere and at anytime it rears its ugly head.
28. The task may appear daunting but I wish to assure that wit will, zeal, passion and determination we shall eventually overcome this hydra headed dragon. Only let us be single minded that it’s a task that must be done in order to preserve the country for posterity.
Thank you all for your attention and God bless Nigeria.


N458m Bribery Scandal: Apologize to Agbaso now, PDP tells Okorocha, Imo Assembly

Following the clean bill given to the impeached Deputy Governor of Imo state, Sir Jude Agbaso by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) exonerating him of charges of corruption, the Legal Adviser of the People Democratic Party(PDP) Imo State Chapter, Chief C.O.C Akaolisa yesterday told the Imo state government and the State House of Assembly to apologize to the impeached Deputy Governor of the state without further delay.
Akaolisa in a press statement in Owerri, made available to newsmen advised particularly, the seven–man Panel of the State House of Assembly headed by Hon. Simeon Iwunze that investigated the N458 million bribery allegation against the impeached Deputy Governor to resign from office and bury their heads in shame, adding that the EFCC have convincingly proved that Iwunze and the members of his panel were specially hired to execute the dirty job.
It would be recalled that the former deputy governor of state was impeached by members of the State Legislature on March 28th, 2013 for allegedly receiving the sum of N458 million bribe from the Managing Director of JPROS Nigeria limited, Mr. Joseph Dina.
Akaolisa also advised Governor Rochas Okorocha to emulate his Edo State counterpart, Governor Adams Oshiomhole who apologized to the widow he hurt by his action and extend same to Agbaso, whom he alleged falsely accused and maliciously removed from office.
Hear Akaolisa: “The Agbaso issue will remain the albatross of the Okorocha administration and all those who aided and abetted this wicked contrivance against Agbaso will surely have their own day of judgment. I call on the members of the Iwunze led-House of Assembly panel to apologize to Sir Jude Agbaso or resign from the House of Assembly as they have been exposed as hired agents who willfully executed the hatchet job of politically ‘hacking down’ an innocent man from his office.”
The lawyer further warned Okorocha, advising him to take stock and cut his excess as his name has become a byword for everything repugnant in Imo state.
“It is rather most unfortunate that reckless impunity has become a style of governance in Imo state of today and most people can no longer wait for 2015 to tell Okorocha how he has plundered the state and subjugated Imo people.”

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Road block dismantling slashes police corruption, says IG

The Inspector General of Nigerian Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, said the dismantling of roadblocks has reduced corruption in the police by 80 per cent. He did not say how he arrived at the figure, but justified it by the sacking of ‘thousand of policemen’ for corruption offences.
Abubakar, spoke when he presented the Nigerian Police Force Scorecard in Asaba on Saturday.
In his view, corruption thrives in the country because the people want to cut corners and are desperate.
He said obeying the law helps to reduce bribery and corruption, adding that the force was making efforts to transforming the Nigerian Police for the better.
The inspector general of police called for partnership with other agencies and the general public, while condemning those who applaud criminals for committing crime.
Abubakar, left, with his men
Abubakar, left, with his men
“The essence of roadblocks is for a temporary arrest of crime and as soon as this is done it is dismantled, this is the situation in other countries of the world. Removing roadblocks in Nigeria has reduced corruption in the police by 80 per cent. The police is a member of our society, therefore, we need the people’s support for the police to succeed in the task of crime fighting,’’ he said.
The IGP said the police was partnering with sister agencies to achieve the organisational goal of providing security for Nigerians.
He said the police had purchased no fewer than 2000 vehicles and some helicopters for crime fighting.
He also said arrangement was on to procuring at least two helicopters for each of the six geopolitical zones to help police fight crimes.
Abubakar said the partnership was yielding result, adding that despite the challenges of Boko Haram in the North, kidnapping, armed robbery and other related-crime had reduced.
He commended the officers and men for providing adequate security during elections in Delta, Edo and Anambra.
He also spoke on housing programme for policemen.
He said the police would complete 2,250 housing units for officers and men by the end of December.
“We believe that the officers and men of the Police Force should have their own houses. By the end of this year, we will have completed a total of 2,250 housing units in Abuja for the officer and men of the force.’’
Abubakar said the force had secured a mandate to pull out of the general pension fund administration as it could now administer and operate its own pension funds.
The inspector general of police also said the force has secured the sum of five billion naira to operate its own mortgage bank.
“We also ensure that our officers and men are insured because of the challenging job they do. When we assumed office, 100,000 were not promoted to next levels, but as we speak, 75,000 of them have been promoted.
We are currently working toward promoting the remaining 35,000 to their new ranks,’’ he said.
He urged the officers and men to be obedient, respect the right of the people and the law.
Abubakar said the challenge of unemployment, poverty and the widening gap between the rich and the poor were some the factors contributing to the rising crime wave in the country.
“These factors make it difficult for people to see what the Nigerian Police is doing to check crimes in the country,’’ he said.

PM  News

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

2014 budget: Reps rebuff bribery allegations for fixing oil benchmark

The House of Representatives yesterday debunked allegations that each legislator received $100,000 to peg the benchmark of the 2014 budget at $76.5 per barrel of crude oil.

Speaking with reporters after the closed door-session, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Victor Ogene, said members did not fight over the issue at the closed door session as alleged by some people.

“Seriously speaking, you all saw us when we came out, smiling. The issues I told you clearly were between those who insisted that the benchmark remains at $79 and those, who feel that it was okay at $76.5,” he said.

He said neither did they receive any bribe from the Presidency over the benchmark.

The benchmark has been a source of contention between the Presidency and the Lower House with the latter insisting on $79 per barrel as against the Senate’s adoption of $76.5 per barrel.

The bribery allegation followed a meeting the lawmakers had with President Jonathan on the issue


Monday, 2 December 2013

Ibori’s UK lawyer questioned over alleged police bribery

One of the counsels to Chief James Ibori, the jailed former governor of Delta State, has been arrested in London for allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice in the money-laundering case that got the politician sent to prison.

Ian Timlin, a former litigation partner at City Law Firm Speechly Bircham, was held by Met anti-corruption detectives investigating the alleged bribery of police officers. The senior lawyer was arrested at his home in Kent on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt a police officer, perverting the course of justice and money-laundering offences concerning Ibori.

The former governor was jailed last year for embezzlement after admitting stealing almost £50m, although the true amount may have been many times greater.

The Independent of London reported that during a long-running Scotland Yard investigation into his business affairs, Mr Ibori hired the law firm, Speechly Bircham, which specialises in tax advice for non-domiciled people living in the UK. Mr Timlin, who until 2010 was a partner at Speechly Bircham, then hired RISC Management, a controversial private detective agency embroiled in the scandal that erupted after the murder of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Leaked documents, according to the newspaper, suggest RISC, run by former Met Police officers, gained inside information into the ongoing investigation of Ibori and that the agency paid serving detectives £20,000 for intelligence that helped the convict’s defence lawyers. One £5,000 payment was allegedly made to a source for information relating to “forthcoming interviewing strategy to be deployed by police”.

Mr Timlin was arrested in April and it is understood police have retrieved internal documents from the law firm. Keith Hunter, the boss of RISC Management, has also been arrested as part of the investigation, which was triggered in May 2012 when newspapers revealed the Met had done nothing since a whistleblower passed police leaked documents revealing the alleged payments to officers many months before.

Like all current investigations into damaging allegations of police corruption, the long-running inquiry has inched its way tortuously forward, which prevents the media from reporting the full details. Both Mr Hunter and Mr Timlin deny the allegations and are on bail.

Mr Timlin qualified as a solicitor in 1991 and was a partner for 15 years in a number of London law firms before he left Speechly Bircham in 2010. He is now legal director of the Long Port Group, a property development company in the tax haven of Guernsey, and has been involved in the construction of a sports resort in Brazil.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nigerian FA official banned for taking bribe

A senior Nigerian football official and a club administrator have been banned for 10 years following their involvement in corruption, the country's football authority has announced.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) banned the chairman of its own disciplinary committee, Olaleye Adepoju, for 10 years for taking a bribe from a club.
The NFF emergency committee also handed Dapo Lam-Adesina same sanction for his role in the scandal, excluding both men from all football-related activities following an investigation.
The football authority also referred to police an allegation that the chairman of Enugu State Football Association, Chidi Ofo Okenwa, was an imposter.
Okenwa was told to step down from his role pending the outcome of the police probe.
"The sanctions handed down by the committee are entirely fair and should act as a deterrent to any club or individual who might consider breaching the rules," NFF board member Chris Green told BBC Sport.
"We've handed out a severe sanction to one of our own, another clear pointer to the fact that no-one is above the law.
"Our football must be clean, fair, rid of dirty dealings and professionally run.
"Every corruption or bribery scandal is damaging to the credibility of the sport, but the NFF will continue to work hard to prevent this ugly spectre of scandal from destroying our beautiful game."
Adepoju was a member of the NFF executive committee and also the chairman of the football association in Oyo state, south-west Nigeria.
He was alleged to have received a cash payment of 1.5 million naira ($9,400) before a disciplinary hearing against Shooting Stars, from the Oyo state capital Ibadan, after they abandoned a league match against Sunshine Stars earlier this year.
He was said to have received money to find in favour of Shooting Stars after their players refused to take the field in the second half when the score was 0-0, claiming that one of their officials had been attacked.
However, the NFF rejected Shooting Stars' account and suspended Adepoju from his role in charge of its disciplinary committee.
Adepoju, a lawyer, claimed he took the money for giving legal advice.
Shooting Stars were fighting relegation at the time. A subsequent hearing awarded Sunshine Stars the three points from the match.
"We are prepared to put up with the pain of deep investigations if it keeps the game cleaner," Green said.
Match-fixing and corruption is a problem in Nigerian football and has led to sanctions against a number of clubs, referees and officials.
The NFF's former secretary general Taiwo Ogunjobi was also banned for 10 years last month.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

1 in 5 Africans forced to pay bribes for police, health care, education

Sale of refineries may not be transparent – Experts

There are fears in the Nigerian oil industry that the planned sale of the four government refineries, with a combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, may not be transparent.
Sources in the industry, who spoke with our correspondent in confidence on Sunday, said the three-month window within which the assets were expected to be sold was too short to allow for global best practices and transparency.
There are, therefore, strong indications that the assets might be sold in a hurry to friends of the government.
Some of the intended beneficiaries, it was learnt, might be some indicted persons in the fuel subsidy scam, who had yet to be cleared.
The Federal Government had set the first quarter of 2014 as the deadline for the sale of the four refineries.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, last week confirmed in London that the refineries would be handed to the private sector.
She stated, “Government does not want to be in the business of running major infrastructure entities and we haven’t done a very good job at it over all these years.”
By the timetable of the Federal Government, it is expected that within the set period, the evaluation of the assets, expression of interests of would-be investors, the technical and commercial bidding processes, as well the short-listing of successful bidders and final handover of the assets, will be concluded.
Alison-Madueke said a Presidential audit of the facilities had last year recommended the sale of the refineries due to inadequate government funding and their unimpressive performance.
Although Nigeria is one of Africa’s top crude exporters, it still imports fuel to meet more than 70 per cent of its local needs.
The refineries operate at a fraction of their capacity because of poor maintenance and aging equipment.


Jonathan Under Fire for Nominating "Corrupt" Ex-Gov. Muazu As PENCOM Boss

The Transition Monitoring Group has kicked against President Goodluck Jonathan's nomination of Adamu Mu'azu, former Bauchi State Governor, as the Chairman of the Nigerian Pension Commission, PENCOM.
The group accused the president of appointing a candidate who was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for corruption.
Last week Wednesday, President Jonathan forwarded Mr. Mu'azu's name - alongside Mfon Akpan as Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service - to the Senate for confirmation.
"The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, is astonished and peeved by this move of the President, especially in the light of the fact that the former Governor is yet to be cleared by the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of the corruption charges he is facing for allegedly defrauding the coffers of Bauchi State to the tune of N19.8billion when he was Governor of the State," the group said in a statement on Monday.
"This and other similar acts of Mr. President, particularly his penchant for surrounding himself with famed corrupt individuals, makes his government's so-called anti-corruption efforts a laughing stock, for it is patently obvious from his antecedents that President Jonathan endorses corruption.
"The EFCC is investigating Mr. Mu'azu for allegedly stealing billions of naira belonging to Bauchi State during his term as governor between 1999 and 2007.Other names forwarded to the Senate for confirmation as Commissioners of PENCOM include Chinelo Anohu-Amazu (South East), Reuben Omotowa (North Central), Mohammed Ka'oje (North West), and Adesojo Olaoba-Efuntayo (South West).But the group said that appointing Mr. Mu'azu to head the commission is in line with his practice of shielding corrupt individuals.
"TMG recalls that in the heat of the corruption charges against the same Mu'azu Adamu, President Jonathan appointed him in 2011 as Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)," said the statement signed by Ibrahim Zikirullahi and Eddy Ezurike, the group's Chairman and Publicity Secretary respectively.
"It was with the President's nod that Business Mogul, Mike Adenuga and his wife, Titi Adenuga in late 2010 walked free from the EFCC charges they were facing for reportedly collecting bribes from Siemens officials; and it was this same attitude of Presidential Romance with alleged corrupt individuals that enabled controversial Lawyer, Dele Oye to walk scot free from EFCC charges of allegedly acting as front for the defunct Oceanic Bank CEO, Cecilia Ibru; and aiding her to loot tens of billions of Naira in Bank assets.
"The Nigerian people of course will not forget in a hurry how this same President granted presidential pardon to a notorious convicted corrupt former Governor and his kinsman, DSP Alamieyeseigha, and other criminals, including a paedophile.
"Those who recently looted the Police Pensions Board, including its former Director are yet to be brought to book. The list is endless; yet Jonathan's regime talks about fight against corruption. The attitude of Mr. President in recycling corrupt individuals in public places is worrisome and does not inspire confidence at all.
"In fact, on issue after issue, he has shown that he will never combat corruption but will rather aid, abet and shield corrupt officials.
"The group called on President Jonathan to withdraw, immediately, Mr. Mu'azu's nomination and take "creative steps" to rebuild confidence and imbue confidence in the anti-corruption war.
"This is the only pathway to redemption, prosperity and development in this country," the statement added.

Obi bribes candidates to oppose cancellation of Guber elections

victor umeh and governor obiYesterday afternoon, Anambra State Government unrepentant about how much damage they have caused to the reputation of the State last Saturday’s elections invited some candidates to the government house and made jumbo offers to them to sign a prepared text by APGA and the government. In fact the statement was prepared by a Deputy Director General in the APGA
campaign who is a serving member of the state cabinet.
While five of the candidate fell for the hook, we are proud of the greater number –over seven of them towed the path of Sxza\honour by rejecting the offer and calling for a total cancellation of the results in line with the dictates of their conscience.
We commend these seven candidates namely : Chief Basil Onuora Onyeachonam (Social Democratic Party ,SDP), chief Dennis Oguguo (KOWA Party),Chief Anayo Arinze (African Democratic Congress ,ADC),Hon. Basil Iwuoba (Peoples Party of Nigeria PPN), Chief Chuka Nwankwo ,Accord), chief Patrick Ibeziako (African Peoples Alliance ,APA), Professor Ben Akanegbu (United Peoples Party ,UPP).
History is repeating itself in Anambra State, and we are proud that there are still persons who can say no to impunity irrespective of whether they are frontliners in the race. We commend them and cannot but note that these seven have written their names in the Anambra State Hall of Fame, which for the time being resides in our minds. When the political history of Anambra State is written, these candidates will take their place.
Their call for total cancellation brings to 18, out of 23, the number of candidates that have voted for the total cancellation of the elections. Some other candidates however have taken the money offered by the Peter Obi led State Government whose succeeding mission is to do personal business with Anambra State apparatus, no matter what odium the state faces as a result of these mercantile actions, which includes procurement of November 16, 2013 elections.
The candidates who did not receive the blessing of their party and supporters but fell for the offer include Godson Okoye (United Democratic Party, UDP), Engr. Tony Anene (Action Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN) , Dr. Webster Okonkwo (National Conscience Party, NCP), Leonard Uchendu (New Nigeria People Party, NNPP) and Pastor Simon Okafor (MMMP.
These minorities will have their say, but we now know where they are coming from. However it is not so much the number as much as the fact that what INEC conducted in Anambra State is a an unlawful elections that brazenly contravened many sections of the Electoral Act and disfranchised so many, witnessed intimidation of voter, violence, intimidation and outright denial of voting materials.
We restate our stand, now shared with seventeen other campaigns that only fresh elections would be acceptable to the generality of Anambra State, and see the current divide as an opportunity for Ndi Anambra to identify their enemies, who wish that they should not vote so that their governors will be appointed from the ranks of the corrupt and inept.
For: NGIGE 2014
Chris Ngige campaign Organisation
Short URL: http://www.osundefender.org/?p=132956

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Corruption kills 80% of SMEs in Nigeria, Africa - ACCA

A new report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), may have corroborated experts’ view that bribery and corruption is a major contributor to the demise of 80 per cent of  Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),within the first five years of their establishment in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
77 per cent  of accountants in sub-Saharan Africa, surveyed for a global study, believe that bribery is a major concern for businesses in the SMEs sector, and 64 per cent  said it had a  negative impact on the business environment as a whole.
Commenting on the report, Toyin Ademola from ACCA Nigeria, said: “While sub-Saharan Africa is a huge place, it is clear that there is a consensus among respondents that bribery and corruption damages a business’s reputation and makes it harder to attract investment. The big question for accountants here in Nigeria is: How do we tackle bribery and corruption?  The research respondents said the most effective methods would be whistle blowing laws and more high profile prosecutions.”
The newly published research from ACCA further stated that more than 60 per cent of respondents did not support the idea that the law should treat bribery and corruption more leniently in the SMEs sector than in the large company or public sectors; but should be tackled across board.
The report, “Combating Bribery in the SMEs sector” was conducted by ACCA among 1000 of its global members.
Toyin Ademola reiterated: “This report has a clear message for accountants, SMEs and the government here in Nigeria. The full restoration of trust and confidence in the business sector can only be achieved when people believe that business is being conducted fairly and transparently.
“By adopting a value-based approach, businesses can help themselves and, indirectly, help to achieve the wider goal of enhancing confidence in the business sector as a whole. Accountants, who have twin responsibilities to give best advice to their employers or clients and an obligation to act in the public interest, have a major part to play in this process.”
The findings reveal a concern that many SMEs are not taking the right steps to mitigate the risks of exposure to bribery and corruption. It also suggests that many businesses have been willing to mis-state financial statements to cover up for bribery and corruption and that recourse to such practices has been exacerbated by the global financial crisis.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Extortion: Fashola Reads Riot Act To LASTMA Officials

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola,yesterday warned personnel of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) to desist from extorting money from motorists, saying any erring official found culpable of extortion will be prosecuted.

Fashola who spoke at the induction of the new Special Traffic Mayors and meeting with LASTMA personnel held at the LTV8 Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Ikeja, urged the officials to focus on the free flow of traffic in the state metropolis rather than arrest of erring motorists.

The governor emphatically urged LASTMA officers to allow traffic offenders to go scot free if their apprehending an offender will further cause traffic congestion.

While harping on the circulating video clip in the social media showing a junior LASTMA personnel caught by cameras demanding N8,000 bribe from a motorist for violating traffic law, Fashola assured that the erring official now at large will be prosecuted.

He said, ” If making arrest will create more traffic, let the offender go. If somebody is impeding the traffic, it is your job to let him go so that you can do your primary job. The longer motorists stay on traffic the more fuel they burn. Traffic offenders must not defeat the purpose for which you are on the road.”

Fashola urged the traffic management personnel to always report all the pot holes on the roads in the areas they are assigned to enable government rehabilitate them , saying the state Public
Works Corporation was established for this purpose.

He said, “Let us commend the citizen for exposing the fellow in the LASTMA who was demanding bribe. We will get him as soon as possible. I am sure he will have days in court. He is a bad egg that does not represent the good ones among us.”

He noted that the Lagos Traffic Law 2012 had been able to reduce accident rates in the state from 646 cases recorded to 111 monthly.

“The law has worked. Death from motorcycles was 15 monthly before but it has now dropped to 1 monthly. I am happy to inform you that from August 2013 to October 2013, no death was recorded. My first duty as a governor is to protect your lives and properties”.

Fashola revealed that plans are in the offing by his administration to convert LASTMA personnel who are contract staff to full public service staff so that they can enjoy other benefits that a permanent civil servant in the state enjoys.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

VIDEO: LASTMA Official Caught On Tape Collecting Bribe

An official of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) has been caught red-handed demanding bribe from a motorist who is suspected to have broken the Lagos traffic law deliberately to expose corrupt law enforcement agents in the state.

The motorist, driving on Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, Lagos state, was stopped at the Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant junction, recorded an amateur video and sent it to the iWitness platform of Channels Television.

The yet-to-be identified LASTMA official accused the motorist of beating the traffic light.
As penalty, the motorist was charged the sum of N8,000 and was escorted to the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to withdraw the cash to settle the officer.

It will be recalled that a police officer, Chris Omeleze, caught on film soliciting for inducement by an unknown motorist was dismissed by the Nigerian Police Force.

Channel TV

CLO accuses three soldiers of extorting N200, 000 from Bayelsa residents

The CLO petitioned the Defence Headquarters over the actions of the soldiers.
By: Arodiegwu Eziukwuin

The Bayelsa Chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has petitioned the Defence Headquarters over alleged case of misconduct and extortion by some soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force operating in the state.

The human rights group alleged that three soldiers on escort duty in the creek had forcefully demanded and extorted N200, 000 from some indigenes of Atonyekiri community, near Nembe in Bayelsa.

The Bayelsa chairman of the organisation, Nengi James, who disclosed this in Yenagoa, said that a formal complaint has also been filed with the Unit Commander of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in Brass Island.

Mr. James, who is also the Chairman of the Oil and Gas Committee of Nembe Kingdom, said that the accused soldiers carried out the alleged crime on Tuesday at about 3 p.m.while on an escort duty for Agip.

According to him, the soldiers were escorting Agip workers who were undertaking a repair work at a crude oil leakage site close to Atonyekiri community in Brass Local Government Area of the state.
“While the Agip staff and some Nembe Oil and Gas Committee members were at the site of the oil spillage to effect the repairs, they left behind the soldiers on the gun boat provided for the escort duty.
“The three soldiers, whose names have been given to the JTF Commander of the Brass Unit disembarked and invaded the Diesel Pump station within the community with the accusation of illegal bunkering.

“They demanded for the sum of half a million naira but when the people refused, they brought out a Jerry can of fuel and sprayed it on the houses in the fishing settlement and threatened to burn down their homes,” Mr. James said.

He alleged that the diesel dealer and the indigenes of the community raised N200,000 and gave it to the soldiers. He said that following the soldiers action, the Agip officials present quickly filed a complaint with the JTF Unit commander in Brass.

“We also filed our complaint, and have decided to take it further by writing the Chief of Army Staff,” Mr. James said.

He called on the military authorities to order an investigation into the incident and ensure that the soldiers involved are made to face justice.

According to him, “if proper investigation is not done, it will further discourage communities to work with the security agents on the needed campaign against oil bunkering.

“This is a crime against humanity and the people of the Niger Delta. If not investigated, it will mean that the top brass of the Nigerian Military are involved in the rising cases of extortion and threats.”
When contacted on the development, the spokesperson of the JTF, Onyema Nwachukwu said its headquarters has not received any official complaint from the groups, nor briefing from its Unit Commander in Brass.

“But let me assure you that if such reports are received, it will investigated and those involved would be judiciously dealt with if there are found wanting,” Mr. Nwachukwu, a Lieutenant Colonel, said.

Source: Premiumtimes

1 in 5 Africans forced to pay bribes for police, health care, education

Nigerian Catholics pray and worship during morning mass April 12, 2005 in Kano, Nigeria. Kano is part of Nigeria's primarily Muslim north, but devoted Catholic minority participates in frequent Masses in local cathedrals. Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria is considered a leading contender to become pope in the aftermath of the death of Pope John Paul II.  (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Nigerian Catholics pray and worship during morning mass April 12, 2005 in Kano, Nigeria. Kano is part of Nigeria's primarily Muslim north, but devoted Catholic minority participates in frequent Masses in local cathedrals. Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria is considered a leading contender to become pope in the aftermath of the death of Pope John Paul II. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Almost one in five Africans were forced to pay a bribe in the past year just to get basic public services, a major survey said Thursday.

In Sierra Leone — the worst affected country — almost two thirds of people said they had given money to public officials for permits, access to health care and school, according to the “Let the People Have Their Say” report by Afrobarometer. Morocco, Guinea and Kenya were close behind.
To compile the report, Afrobarometer surveyed 51,000 Africans across 34 countries.

The institution rated most corrupt across the whole continent was the police. Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at Chatham House, said the figures displayed a policing “crisis” in Africa. Nigeria, Kenya and Sierra Leone rated the worst for police corruption.

“If you were to take a group of young people in Africa and say, ‘Someone has burgled your house,’ the majority would not phone the police,” he said. “They would rather go to someone else they might know who could sort it out.

“Policing across much of Africa is in crisis. So you get informal police forces in place of the official ones which aren’t doing their job. Vigilante policing provides the protection that the police fail to do.”
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