Thursday, 2 October 2014

How to Tackle Corruption Effectively in Nigeria

Sam Ejike Okoye

"The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference." Bess Myerson. (First Jewish Miss America, 1924-?)

Bribery, which is an important aspect of corruption, needs two parties for it to happen: the bribe giver and the bribe taker. In some countries the culture of corruption extends to every aspect of public life, making it more or less impossible to stay in business without giving bribes. The most common bribe-giving countries are not in general the same as the most common bribe-taking countries. The 12 least corrupt countries, according to the most recent Transparency International perception survey, are (in alphabetical order): Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland. On the other hand, the 13 most corrupt countries are (in alphabetical order): Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cameroon, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ukraine.

In Nigeria, corruption is akin to cancer. As the great English intellectual, Rev Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1932), put it: "Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase." Indeed this has been the Nigerian experience with corruption developing to such staggering proportions that it is now not only a bane of the country, but has largely defied present and past efforts to stymie it. The position now is that corruption is so entrenched that anyone hoping to do any kind of business with the Nigerian bureaucracy must take it into account. Indeed the situation is now so bad that even some government officials are alleged to bribe one another to get government business done. But in the political arena, Nigeria has found it difficult to prove corruption, but also impossible to prove its absence. Indeed there are indications that many Nigerians, some of them politicians, retired civil servants, judges, and a few generals, have engaged in corrupt practices. Indeed politicians are often placed in apparently compromising positions because of their desperate need to solicit financial contributions ostensibly for their campaigns, but in reality for rigging elections. They appear sometimes to be acting in the interests of those parties that sponsor them, but mostly they are driven by personal aggrandisement.

For the most part, corruption has bedevilled Nigeria’s political scene encompassing abuses by government officials such as embezzlement and nepotism, as well as abuses linking public and private actors such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. As the award winning US scientist and social critic, David Brin, put it: "It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's truer that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." Indeed there is a certain nexus between mediocrity and corruption which so far has been ignored in the Nigerian corruption equation. May be as David Brin suggests, it is the wrong people that get into positions of influence and merit in Nigeria (thanks to “federal character affirmative action based only on arbitrarily created states of origin”). For this reason, the question that Nigerians should be asking is not, who among the moneyed elite class is corrupt? But, who is NOT corrupt? That this must be so is evident from the way many Nigerians today seem to live above their visible legitimate incomes. Otherwise how does one explain the sources for the financing of those luxurious, palatial, stately mansions (that have mushroomed in many Nigerian cities, towns, and even villages), not to speak of the sumptuously lavish social parties and very expensive top-end luxury cars put on display by a large number of businessmen, senior public servants and military personnel, serving and retired. Perhaps the real challenge with tackling corruption in Nigeria is that most of the corruption warriors (in the form of the policy makers, the legislators, the police and the judiciary) pressed into service are themselves not exactly clean. These are the realities that have stared past and present Nigerian leaders on the face as they moan about corruption and pretend to fight it.

Causes of corruption
Although Nigerian leaders in the last twenty to thirty years have made such a sing-song of fighting corruption, it does not appear that any serious effort has been made to address the real causes of corruption. Thus without a proper diagnosis of the causes of corruption, trying to fight it is akin to treating symptoms rather than rooting out the disease itself. This unfortunately appears to be the strategy adopted so far in fighting corruption in Nigeria. We must now attempt to answer the questions that Nigerians should be asking their crusaders of corruption. What indeed are the domestic causes of corruption in one of the world’s most corrupt countries?

It is necessary to observe that aside from the quality, or lack of it, of people running the Nigerian economic and political shows, there are some systemic conditions in the Nigerian polity that promote corruption. To start with, it is unfortunate that power is concentrated in the hands of decision makers who in reality are not directly accountable to the people as is often seen in non-democratic regimes. This is a direct result of Nigeria’s inability since independence to always conduct credible, free, fair and uncontroversial elections to political offices in the country. With political office holders acquiring power through disputable if not illegitimate methods, the situation is not helped by perennial lack of government transparency in decision making. Again costly political campaigns in recent times, with expenses exceeding normal sources of political funding mean that elected officials’ first priority on assuming office is to recoup their election expenses. This is facilitated by the design of marginally relevant prestige projects requiring expenditure of large amounts of public capital. In the subsequent award of contracts for these projects, self-interested closed cliques, ethnic-cum-family members, and "old-boy" networks are favoured. The bulk of the bureaucracy (often poorly paid) and bedevilled with below-living wages and supported by apathetic, uninterested, or gullible populace, become actors and accomplices in the public contracts gravy train. With a weak rule of law in the land and the absence of adequate controls to prevent bribery, the express corruption train rolls on.

But the crux of the present Nigerian corruption problem is the overarching crude oil economy and politics. It is not a secret that “lifting crude oil” is a major form of political patronage in Nigeria since the 1970s oil boom. Indeed since the advent of the oil boom in the 1970s, Nigerians have developed an unhealthy love for easy wealth and luxury goods while at the same time loosing their traditional appetite for hard work, as well as the knack to generate resources and accumulate capital. Instead the national preoccupation now is the sharing of the so-called “national cake” which in an imposed quasi-federal regime has been raised to the high level of state policy via a revenue sharing formula! With the spending of Nigerian oil incomes in the Gowon days being declared to be a problem, Nigerian agriculture (the former mainstay of the Nigerian economy) was abandoned and the many assembly plants that masqueraded as manufacturing industries soon followed suit.

According to allegations made by some members of the House of Representatives, the Nigerian oil industry appears to be a den of corruption. If their allegation is to be believed, no one outside a certain restricted inner circle of government knows exactly how much oil income flows into the national coffers. Not even the legislature could compel the executive to exhibit total transparency in the handling of Nigeria’s oil resources. As if to underline this situation the new Minister of Solid Mineral Resources, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, while speaking recently in Port Harcourt at the road show of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) accused oil and gas companies operating in the country of corrupt practices, and said that was the reason why they avoid disclosure of their annually generated revenue and expenditures.

Indeed for a long time, Nigeria was the only OPEC member without an oil minister. The reason for this anomaly could be that the President, who himself is presumed to not only be clean, but the de facto oil minister, may have believed that no other Nigerian could be trusted with honest management of such a major source of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. But following the conclusion of the recent National Political Reform Conference and the controversy for “resource control” demand by the South-South zone that trailed it, the President perhaps in a deft move to deliver a sop to the South-South zone has now appointed an oil technocrat from Bayelsa State as petroleum minister of state while remaining the de facto oil minister. Nonetheless, it is difficult not to suspect that any transaction shrouded in secrecy, as is the case in the oil industry, may not be free from corrupt practices or even above board. It seems logical that any effort to tackle corruption in Nigeria must start with sanitizing the oil industry, because of its all pervading knock-on effects on other sectors of the national economy.
The effects of corruption
Corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by subverting formal processes. Corruption in elections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and fair representation in policymaking; corruption in the judiciary undermines or suspends the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the unequal provision of services. More generally, corruption erodes the institutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off, and officials are hired or promoted without regard to performance. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and such democratic values as trust and tolerance.

Corruption also undermines economic development by generating considerable distortions and inefficiency. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of business through the price of illicit payments themselves, the management cost of negotiating with officials, and the risk of breached agreements or detection. Although some claim corruption reduces costs by cutting red tape, an emerging consensus holds that the availability of bribes induces officials to contrive new rules and delays. Where corruption inflates the cost of business, it also distorts the playing field, shielding firms with connections from competition and thereby sustaining inefficient firms.

Corruption also generates economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful. Officials may increase the technical complexity of public sector projects to conceal such dealings, thus further distorting investment. Corruption also lowers quality of standards of compliance with construction, environmental, or other regulations; reduces the quality of government services and infrastructure as is too evident to Nigerians; and increases budgetary pressures on government. This may be the reason why in spite of the unprecedented hikes in crude oil prices that have led to the so-called excess oil revenues, the federal government is still finding it quite difficult to balance its annual budgets.

Economists argue that one of the factors behind the differing economic development in Africa and Asia is that in Africa, corruption has primarily taken the form of rent extraction with the resulting financial capital moved overseas rather than invested at home (hence the stereotypical, but sadly often accurate, image of African dictators having Swiss bank accounts). Also, corruption has been identified as the main cause of poverty and underdevelopment in most African countries. By contrast, Asian dictators such as Suharto had often taken a cut on everything (requiring bribes), but otherwise provided more of the conditions for development, through infrastructure investment, law and order, etc.

Political corruption is widespread in many countries, and represents a major detriment to the well-being of their citizens. Political corruption means that government policies tend to benefit the givers of the bribes, not the general public. Another example is how politicians would draft laws that protect large corporations while hurting small businesses. These "pro-business" politicians are simply returning favours to those commercial enterprises that contributed heavily to their election campaigns.

How to wage a credible war on Corruption.
The establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Code of Conduct Bureau and its Tribunal is a laudable start on the war against corruption. Unfortunately, though some successes have been registered by these bodies, the general impression is that these bodies have gone after the tail of the monster of corruption rather than its head. It is not helpful that some politicians meanwhile allege that these bodies are being used by the Presidency as instruments of blackmail or vendetta against political opponents. There is therefore a need to expand the activities and range of instruments available to these bodies.

Indeed, an effective war on corruption has to be fought on, at least, the three axes of (a) Prevention, (b) Detection, and (c) Sanctions and Restitutions. While to date some efforts have been made in terms of the prevention (e.g. the Due Process mechanism) and sanctions of corruption offenders, present efforts being made to detect corruption are at best half-hearted. It is no wonder that when some time ago the Nigerian media accused a former military head of state of embezzlement of public funds, Mr. President was to retort that he would take immediate action if he is provided with actual evidence of wrong-doing of this particular predecessor. Yet the President himself announced that he has received the names of some naughty public officials who have been reported to him by Nigeria’s western creditors as having siphoned and are still siphoning some huge resources abroad. Clearly Nigeria needs robust corruption detection and bursting agency as up and doing, and as zealous as the Nigerian Police Force sometimes demonstrates at road check points, and the SSS always exhibits in matters of the President’s personal security.
Prevention of corruption

If corruption is to be given a short shrift in Nigeria, then the social, business and bureaucratic environments must be corruption-hostile rather than friendly. This means that there must be well funded comprehensive public education and enlightenment programs on the nature of corruption as well as the negative effects of corruption in the Nigerian polity. This is a job that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) as well as the Federal and State Ministries of Information must undertake. This could take the form of well tested public enlightenment techniques such as the use of hand bills, public posters, print media adverts and Radio and TV jingles. At the same time, the citizenry must be made aware of the stiff penalties that await those to be engaged in corrupt practices. To this end, certain legal instruments must be put in place to enable unfettered corruption detection, arraignment and conviction to be facilitated. In this regard, appropriate legislation should be enacted along the following lines:
A law compelling all banks to report to both the appropriate Federal and State Boards of Inland Revenue/Tax Authorities, as well as the law enforcement agencies any deposits, transfers or withdrawals of funds in excess of a specified amount (e.g. N5 million) by any individual. Such a law should provide for the automatic State confiscation if it turns out that the sources of such funds are proved in a court of law to be illegitimate or are connected with illicit money laundering.

A law requiring tax in the form of “capital gains tax” to be levied against people who appear to have come into large sums of money illegitimately or even legitimately, other than as a result of a legitimate business transaction (for example, accruals to registered businessmen who have declared taxable business profits), or otherwise sums received by a salaried person as part of an emolument package (for which normal income taxes would have been paid).

A law requiring the Federal and State Ministries responsible for Lands and Housing to make it a condition for the granting of Certificates of Occupancy, as well as for approval of building plans on registered plots of land, to require applicants to indicate legal sources of funds for the development or purchase of a landed property, as well as evidence of income taxes being paid that are commensurate with the acquisition or possession of such valued property in question.

A law enabling the Federal and State Tax Assessment and Collection Agencies as well as the Anti-Corruption Intelligence Agency (discussed below) and the Police to demand explanations for large acquisitions and expenditures (for any purpose including donations and pledges at “public launches“and other events) of large sums of money beyond the legitimate incomes whether of public servants or private entrepreneurs, and to impound same when sources for such funds cannot be justified in a court of law.

A law requiring the mandatory public declaration of the assets of the “immediate family” (meaning husband, wife and children) of all specified senior public officers on appointment or assumption of duty as well as after disengagement. In addition such assets (which must be covered by the Freedom of Information Act) must be verified and monitored routinely by the Anti-Corruption Intelligence Agency and the EFCC. (In this regard, it is relevant to observe that Nigerians can be very creative over asset declaration. Hence an elected or appointed official who targets stealing 100 million naira during his/her term in office could, for example, declare 105 million naira upon assumption of office. Usually, the declaration is taken on its face value; no further attempt is made to ascertain that the official is actually worth the declared amount. He/She subsequently would steal 100 million and when he/she is about to leave office, he/she declares 100 million plus whatever little money he/she might have made legitimately. No one can query the loot because it was declared when the official came into office. Hence what the government should do is to demand physical evidence of the declared assets and at the same time establish their legitimacy).
A law should be enacted, declaring all crimes of corruption “federal crimes” justiciable in federal courts or tribunals.
Finally, a law should be enacted creating Federal Tribunals for Corruption offences (FTCO). The powers of such courts, sitting in Abuja and State capitals, and the form of sentences within their scope must be carefully spelt out, and the court or courts of final appeal specified.

It is relevant to mention that virtually every American is wary of the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), because it can land on anyone’s doorstep, at any time and indeed, the IRS has the power to examine anyone’s lifestyle and to ask for explanations about one’s sources of income, and woe betides anyone who is unable to account for any newfound wealth. That in a nutshell is the sort of social environment that must be established in Nigeria if a credible start is to be made in the difficult job of corruption prevention and eradication.

Detection of corruption
It is often said that it is difficult to nail down corrupt officials, but it has to be observed that such circumstantial evidence as someone’s luxurious or flamboyant lifestyles, could easily give away a corrupt person and lead to detection. Unfortunately, Nigerians are not in the habit of questioning the sources of sudden wealth. Instead those who flaunt unexplained sudden wealth are extolled. Moreover, it has to be understood that corruption is a crime of calculation not passion. When bribes are large, the chances of being caught small, and penalties if caught meager, many officials will succumb to corruption. The problem in Nigeria is that when corrupt officials are caught, they are not punished severely. Most of the time, the authorities go through the motions (e.g., fanfare in the media about the apprehension and trial but then nothing happens). Severe sanctions that are actually required to act as a deterrent are not applied. Nevertheless, corruption like crimes relating to sedition and national security are often hatched in secrecy and without an effective intelligence facility, it would be difficult if not impossible for government to expose and scuttle corruption. Because corruption is a very serious crime, its detection must follow a similar route as the detection of other crimes which are often aided in the advanced countries by “wire tapping” and the use of secret informants. Hence Nigeria should give the country’s law enforcement agencies the leeway to use electronic intelligence gathering techniques to catch offenders of corrupt practices. In looking for evidence of corrupt deeds of accused persons, government should set up a corruption intelligence agency similar to the “E Branch” and the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Nigeria Police Force. In other words, there is a need for government to establish a well funded Anti-Corruption Intelligence Agency (ACIA) which can be a stand-alone agency that could have a relationship with the present Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as well as the EFCC, but which preferably should report to the Federal Minister of Justice (which ideally should be different from the Attorney-General of the Federation). The legislation establishing the ACIA should provide for powers of arrest and detention (for a limited short period) of accused or indicted persons as well as the power to use electronic intelligence techniques to apprehend their quarry. Efforts should also be made by the Presidency and the National Assembly to ensure that funding of the ACIA is made part and parcel of the national security vote. But if different, the ACIA funding must be comparable in size and handling to the security vote, since corruption in the end impinges very significantly on overall national security.

Sanctions and restitution from those found guilty of corruption.
Before discussing methods and forms of trial and sanctions of those indicted of corruption, it is necessary to observe at the outset that it is immoral to allow those indicted of corruption offences to be allowed to still enjoy their alleged loot while their trial is in progress. In this regard, there should be established, interest yielding escrow accounts maintained by the ACIA where any seized funds suspected to be associated with corrupt activities will be lodged. If at the end of trial, the accused persons are found innocent, all seized assets must be returned in full and any seized funds returned with commensurate interests, except that such persons will not be entitled to subsequently sue the ACIA claiming damages for any wrongful arrest or detention.

However application of sanctions on corruption offenders must always be a matter for the courts of the land. However in handling corruption cases, the current arcane court processes and rules that lead to delayed justice because of legal technicalities and endless injunctions and adjournments of court proceedings based on contrived court motions and legal arguments by counsels on both sides must be dispensed with in corruption cases. To this end, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should come up with home grown fast track procedures, including rules of evidence, for handling cases in Corruption Tribunals. Indeed election tribunals could also benefit from such fast track procedures to deal with election results petitions arising from election malpractices, which represent a veritable form of political corruption.
Where persons or group of individuals or corporate bodies have been convicted of corrupt practices, any funds or assets seized by law enforcement agencies must automatically be forfeited to the relevant arm of government which has been a victim of such corruption. In addition, persons convicted of corrupt practices must be disqualified from holding any public office for a specified period, such as ten years. In the case of convicted corporate bodies, sentencing will include heavy fines as well as the suspension of any legal instruments that facilitate their existence and enable them to operate in Nigeria. In addition, the executive directors of corporate firms convicted of corrupt practices will be debarred from serving on the boards of any publicly quoted companies or holding any elective political office, for a specified period, such as ten years.

"Power does not corrupt men. Fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power."
–George Bernard Shaw

It is often claimed that corruption like prostitution cannot be wiped out entirely in any society. This may well be so. But it seems evident from the examples of some virtually corruption free countries, like the Scandinavian countries, that any country, that can muster the will, can indeed reduce corruption to the barest minimum. This is the gauntlet that Nigeria must embrace. For a start, the war on corruption will be bedevilled by quite a few people of questionable integrity that have already worked their way into positions of political (executive and legislative), judicial, corporate and bureaucratic authority and influence. Hence Nigeria must draw a line somewhere and grant amnesty to past offenders of corruption up to an arbitrarily set cut-off date to be determined. But the key to preventing and controlling further corruption crimes is to implement such measures geared towards prevention, detection, sanctions and restitutions as suggested in this article. These measures, particularly the sanctions, may appear draconian and stringent. This may not sit well with some Nigerians who may feel they will loose out. Indeed from the experience at the recently concluded National political Reform Conference(NPRC), some Nigerians did not seem to have the stomach for the imposition of stiff sanctions on those that destroyed the Nigerian economy and rendered at least a hundred million Nigerians destitute, and in like manner left hundreds of thousands (including children) dying annually because of malnutrition and lack of adequate medical care (a crime that compares well with genocide) arising from official corruption and poor governance. The debate at the NPRC, about disqualifying former military rulers (who came to power by force) from occupying any elective offices, soon took a sectional coloration and vehemently resisted by some retired military officers. In the controversy, disqualification (which in the present constitution even applies to illiterates and criminals) was simply equated to a blanket ban.

When all is said and done, Nigerians must not forget where the country would have been today had they not been subjected to the misfortune of being ruled by selfish and self serving leaders. But it is not enough to start a credible war on corruption. The Nigerian elites and the political class in particular, must get their acts together and desist from the malaise of indifference that has overtaken them since the military entered into national governance and politics. They owe it to their compatriots to politically re-engineer their country by restoring in Nigeria the true structures of federalism dismantled by their erstwhile military rulers. Even so, it is one thing to politically re-engineer the country and another thing to make it work. After all, one cannot hope to achieve a victory in a grand prix by putting a bad driver in the driving seat of the best engineered racing car. Hence the rules of the political game in Nigeria must be reviewed to open up the political space and to make it attractive for Nigeria’s best minds, as well as men and women of ability, commitment and integrity to volunteer to serve the people by joining the partisan political arena without the handicap of not having the financial clout that present day politicking demands.

Nigeria has indeed been endowed (thank God!) with all the human and natural resources it takes and requires, to become a great African and world power. But she cannot achieve that potential by her relying on mediocrity and people of questionable integrity to run her affairs.
Sam Okoye, a former Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and former Science Attaché at the Nigeria, High Commission, London, writes from London.


Nigerians got $533m bribe in ENI oil deal

Italian prosecutors investigating state-backed firm ENI SpA over the purchase of a Nigerian oil field three years ago allege that at least half of the $1.1 billion paid was used to bribe local politicians, intermediaries and others, according to official documents and a person close to the investigation.
The Milan prosecutors have placed the Italian oil company, its former chief executive Paolo Scaroni and CEO Claudio Descalzi under investigation for alleged international corruption surrounding the deal for the OPL 245 offshore oil field concession.
ENI and both managers, neither of who has been charged, have denied any wrongdoing.
Calling on their United Kingdom (UK) counterpart to assist in freezing suspect assets, Italian prosecutors said in a letter to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) seen by Reuters that at least $533 million was paid to Nigerian officials and intermediaries who helped secure the sale.
The case has been a setback for the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, because Italy’s 39-year-old leader hand-picked company veteran Descalzi to run Eni as part of a recent management overhaul at the country’s state-controlled companies. Renzi has publicly supported Descalzi and said no conclusions should be drawn before the investigation is completed.
ENI and Royal Dutch Shell, which is not under investigation, bought the rights to the OPL 245 offshore oil licence block from the Nigerian government in 2011.
Production from the deepwater oil field is expected to begin in 2016 with the field estimated to hold up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude, equivalent to nearly a quarter of the country’s total proven reserves, according to industry figures.
An aide to Renzi told Reuters the case involving Eni, which is Italy’s biggest company by market capitalisation and the state’s biggest asset, was “not a big cause for concern at the moment”.
As part of their investigation, the Italian prosecutors in May asked the UK’s CPS to freeze $85 million in assets related to a Nigerian company, Malabu Oil & Gas, that prosecutors say was involved in the sale, according to a copy of the official request sent by the Milan investigators and seen by Reuters.
In the letter, the Italian prosecutors alleged that Scaroni and Descalzi oversaw the payments to parties who helped secure the sale. In a second letter they alleged that some of the ultimate recipients of alleged bribes used the money to buy aircraft and armoured cars.
“We are investigating many money transfers to many people in various countries who received sums that vary from millions of dollars to thousands of dollars,” the prosecutors said in the follow-up letter, seen by Reuters.
In response to the requests London’s Southwark Crown Court last month granted an order to seize the $85 million in assets related to Malabu, according to a judicial source.
London’s Metropolitan Police has also been investigating aspects of the Nigerian deal since last year. A police spokesman said the inquiry into allegations of money laundering is continuing.
Descalzi and Scaroni, in statements and through their lawyers, denied that they were involved in any illegal behaviour. Descalzi also told Eni employees in an email seen by Reuters that he had not engaged in any wrongdoing.
After a board meeting last week, ENI also reiterated that the company had not engaged in any wrongdoing and that it had “full confidence that Descalzi had acted properly.”
The OPL 245 block licence has long been the subject of dispute. It was first awarded a decade ago by military dictator Sani Abacha to Malabu Oil & Gas for a publicly-stated $20 million.
After the death of Abacha, a new Nigerian government annulled the deal. Malabu’s licence was reinstated in 2006.
Reuters was not able to locate Malabu for comment, and it is unclear whether the company still exists.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), did not reply to questions sent by Reuters asking about the investigation by Italian prosecutors.
Shell, which is not under investigation in any case, released a statement saying: “Shell companies have acted at all times in accordance with both Nigerian law and the terms of the OPL 245 resolution agreement with.”

Monday, 22 September 2014

Towards Curtailing Corruption In Nigeria

MANY Nigerians were tranquillized when the global anti-corruption watchdog announced that our country is one of the 35th most corrupt countries in the world. To some people, the situation in the country is worse than what was reflected in the latest corruption perception table. Most people believe that in Nigeria, all kinds of evil act corrupt act is obtainable in the country life wire.

Corruption is the major hindrance, a big obstacle to the development across all sectors in Nigeria, this is because virtually all sectors in the country are all corrupt. It has eaten deep into the life wire of the country and that is why it seems as nothing is been done about it.

Nigerian government, police, civil service and businesses are plagued by bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption. While many points to a failure of leadership; corruption is largely a product of an economy fueled almost exclusively by petroleum with no vested interest in developing Nigeria’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors. The wealthy simply profit from oil while the country wallows deeper into economic chaos.

Nigeria’s roads are dominated by check points where law enforcement agents often demand that their palms be greased before travelling.

They’ve turned check points into bribe collecting points and that is more reason terrorists, kidnappers and other hoodlums are not caught in most of their activities. What do you expect when a security man whose attention supposed to be on the individuals that look suspicious is focused on the drivers hand hoping to get N20.

Nigeria as a nation is falling deeper into corruption day by day, can you tell me any sector in this country that is free from bribery and corruption? I doubt because even in football, players most times bribed coaches for them to play for the next game.

Moving aside entirely to the education sector where most times students who are not qualified at the time of the examination are the ones that are referred to as undergraduates. There have been complaints that the Nigerian education sector is poor; why won’t it be, when money is being collected to admit students into higher institution. Have you asked yourself why students mostly score higher in Jamb and when it comes to PUME, reverse is the case; that will show the level of corruption, bribery and exam malpractice in education system. Very soon in Nigeria the poor who cannot afford to pay up to #150,000, cannot be admitted into the university.

The main issue about corruption in Nigeria does not lie with our government or civil service alone, citizens are also involved in this act.

An electorate sells his/her vote for just a thousand naira that not is even enough for air time subscription as a result of poverty.

The focal point about corruption in Nigeria to a large extent lies right in Aso rock with those that wine and dine with the people in the floor of power both at the national and the state to local level. Embezzling public fund is no more news in the country, it has become a normal daily activities. In this country, abnormality has become normality and that is more reason why all efforts to curtail corruption in the country has become negative.

The country has become so corrupt that the public servants have totally lost trust in the government. The public servants hardly believe anything that the government says which are yet to be implemented. This is because the leadership in the country so far has been treading and is still treading on the ground of promise and fail.

ASUU embarked on strike for a period of 6months last year, even when the government promised to meet up with their demands. There seemed to be no credibility in what government dishes out to the public anymore.

Nowadays we hear such comments likes “ I pray o” whenever it’s heard that the government has embarked on one project or another, the citizens have doubts about that.

It would be difficult to identify any Nigerian leader who can be said to be successful in fulfilling his promises to the country. No doubt, the country is in this current depressing and distasteful state because her leaders at various levels of government over the years have perfected the art of saying something and to an extent doing another almost at the same time. Even when any effort or whatsoever are made, it is, almost always contrary to the promise made.

Human right watch estimated that the epidemic nature of corruption led to the loss of $380bn worth of revenue between 1999 and 2007in Nigeria. Then about 47 percent of companies that do business in Nigeria till date are Said to be experts to make facilitation payments to public officials in order to get them to do their work. To the observers, the parliament and the political parties are the most corrupt institutions; in line with this, I believe that corruption within the bureaucracy is equally as virulent, commenting on this issue in his article “are we really winning the war Against corruption” Uche Igwe said. That , “a major chunk of public sector corruption happens within the Nigerian civil service.

The civil service is meant to be the bureaucracy that services the policy implementation process, but today it has been turned into an arena of looting. Corruption in the civil service is the rule rather than the exception, Uch Igwee added. There is this popular saying “wait for your turn” that is to say that one has to patiently wait till he/she gets to higher position and only then and only then can he join the club of bribe collectors and money embezzlers. But this is what happens in a state where abnormality has become normality.

Most persons enter offices with goodwill but after some time, they begin to understand that one cannot bite more than he can chew. Even at the house of assembly and others at the local level, anyone who fights against corruption in his office stands a risk of being impeached. In most cases, they set the person up. Nigerian offices are dens of lions where three things are involved; it’s either you join the club, resign or face allegation that could lead to your impeachment, that is the situation of things in Nigerian politics and other sectors in the country.

The country has presented a bad image of herself in the eyes of other countries. Nigerians in other countries of the world are often suspected because of the evil deeds that those in power are not willing and ready to stop.

So far, the main avenue for war against corruption in Nigeria is through .the establishment of anti-corruption agencies. There are multiple versions of these agencies, each pursuing after complex, competing, divergent, and often overlapping mandate in Nigeria. All well and good but what has been their impact? Some of those agencies have turned out to be the biggest channels for corruption themselves. Some of these agencies when they apprehend someone, instead of charging the person to court, their pocket would be charged with money and that’s the end of such cases.

The anti-corruption agencies have failed. Money controls their minds, even those who wish to fight corruption, their ‘oga at the top’ would suppress their efforts.

Lest we forget, in time past, agricultural and economic indices have largely dictated a country’s growth and increases in complexity and development.

Today, these variables are not all together rendered negligible, but they can hardly match the autocratic nature of influence handled by the political factors within the political sector that weave the fabric of country’s internal development and external relationships with foreign nations. That is why Nigerians have lost all available faith in the possibility of a legitimately elected representative of the people as it concerns the elective process for change of government.

The unending corruption which has eaten deep into the fabrics of our system has helped no one either as both the government and the governed seemed to have been carried away by the turbulent sea of western dependency.

Nigeria is wallowing in corruption, even the coming generation now subconsciously prepare fertile ground for the seed of corruptive influences like grafting, misappropriation and illicit propensity of for wealth.

It is in Nigeria we have, though in small number, members of the so called ‘CABAL’ who seems to be in absolute control of the electoral process, which according to concerned Nigerian citizens has ironically become ‘selection’ as opposed to an election process. It is regrettable to realize that the dreams and counsel of our founding elders has been forsaken for many years to embrace corruption and the profit of greed. Our national anthem reads “arise o compatriots”, how many of our leaders are patriots, you as an individual, how patriotic are you?Feigning ignorance to this prevalent attitude of our rulers and the “chop as I chop” concept a present part and reality of the Nigerian government administration. Should Nigerians resign to a fate of failure and hopelessness without repair? Answer to this question is cryptic for it would only lead to more questions.
However, there is a plausible possibility for a purge of all impurities from our present polity even though a change has never been a welcome verb for discussion where poorer and politics are concerned. But since, “nature is change is nature, then nature is the part of existence we can affect or effect”. The limited success in the war against corruption has bred deep cynicism among the Nigerian people capable of subverting trust in a democratic system of government.

Conclusively, in a bid to curtail corruption in Nigeria, an effective anti-corruption agency must command public respect, be credible, transparent accountable, and fearless. It must mobilize the necessary political will as well as enjoy considerable operational independence. Since the war against corruption formally resumed in Nigeria for years, the verdict is that it has been less than effective. Our leaders should restore purity and sanity into the system and reduce the rate at which they perpetrate evil in the country and other sector officials should as well refine and redefine their minds of corruption and bribery.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Police IG, Suleiman Abba, orders dismantling of all police roadblocks nationwide

The order banning the setting up of Police roadblocks nationwide is still strictly in force, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, has said.

In a statement Sunday, Force Spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the police boss has sent a directive to all commands and formations of the Force nationwide asking them to immediately dismantle “all semblances of Police roadblocks and permanent checkpoints reportedly re-emerging in some parts of the country, especially in the South-East, South-South and South-West geo-political zones of Nigeria”.
Police road blockPolice road block

Mr. Ojukwu further quoted Mr. Abba as describing the reemergence of roadblocks as a serious violation of subsisting order on the matter and threatened severe sanctions on any police commands, formations and personnel who violate the order.

While charging the state Commissioners of Police and Heads of Formations to ensure total compliance with the order, the IGP further ordered extensive visibility patrol and effective surveillance on Nigerian roads.

Meanwhile, as Nigeria joins the rest of the world in marking World Peace Day on September 21, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force has restated its resolve to work assiduously for the enthronement of genuine peace in the nation.

“As peace officers and frontliners in the drive for a peaceful world, the Nigeria Police understands the dislocation and trauma that happen to families, homes, cities and businesses in the event of disturbances,” the Force said in a statement.

The statement added, “In line with the above, the Nigeria Police will train more officers on conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation. Our Family Units and Juvenile Welfare Centres will be reinvigorated to cater for the needs of hurting family members, widows, orphans, displaced persons and the vulnerable. The Police will pay more diligent attention to early warning signs and improve response time to crises and distress calls.

“The Inspector-General of Police, Ag. IGP Suleiman Abba urges all citizens to embrace peace at all times, and to assist law enforcement agents in the preservation and maintenance of peace nationwide.”

The order banning the setting up of Police roadblocks nationwide is still strictly in force, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, has said.
In a statement Sunday, Force Spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the police boss has sent a directive to all commands and formations of the Force nationwide asking them to immediately dismantle “all semblances of Police roadblocks and permanent checkpoints reportedly re-emerging in some parts of the country, especially in the South-East, South-South and South-West geo-political zones of Nigeria”.
Police road block
Police road block
Mr. Ojukwu further quoted Mr. Abba as describing the reemergence of roadblocks as a serious violation of subsisting order on the matter and threatened severe sanctions on any police commands, formations and personnel who violate the order.
While charging the state Commissioners of Police and Heads of Formations to ensure total compliance with the order, the IGP further ordered extensive visibility patrol and effective surveillance on Nigerian roads.
Meanwhile, as Nigeria joins the rest of the world in marking World Peace Day on September 21, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force has restated its resolve to work assiduously for the enthronement of genuine peace in the nation.
“As peace officers and frontliners in the drive for a peaceful world, the Nigeria Police understands the dislocation and trauma that happen to families, homes, cities and businesses in the event of disturbances,” the Force said in a statement.
The statement added, “In line with the above, the Nigeria Police will train more officers on conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation. Our Family Units and Juvenile Welfare Centres will be reinvigorated to cater for the needs of hurting family members, widows, orphans, displaced persons and the vulnerable. The Police will pay more diligent attention to early warning signs and improve response time to crises and distress calls.
“The Inspector-General of Police, Ag. IGP Suleiman Abba urges all citizens to embrace peace at all times, and to assist law enforcement agents in the preservation and maintenance of peace nationwide.”
- See more at: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/168423-police-ig-suleiman-abba-orders-dismantling-of-all-police-roadblocks-nationwide.html#sthash.7qgni3JE.f2FbrjGn.dpuf

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Synagogue Church collapse: T.B Joshua allegedly offered journalists N50,000 bribe to alter reports

Prophet Temitope B. Joshua, head of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, Lagos, has been accused of offering bribe to reporters covering the collapse of his Church’s guest house.
The incident, which occurred September 19, left over 85 persons, mostly South Africans, dead.
A Nigerian journalist, Nicholas Ibekwe, who made the allegation on Saturday via social network, Twitter, also provided an audio proof to back up his claim.

In a series of tweets, he lambasted field staff of media houses, who collect money while on the job, saying such was against ethics of the profession.
“Nigerian journalists habitually collects money at press conferences and events. They call it ‘brown envelop’. I call it bribe!”, he tweeted.
“And for those asking for prove. I’ve audio proof of TB Joshua telling reporters he’s N50,000 each from them”.
The church management is yet to respond to the allegation.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dangote in bribery row in Zambia

A row is brewing between Zambia and Dangote Cement, a major employer in Africa’s second largest copper producer, after a government minister accused an executive at the local unit of the Nigerian company of attempting to bribe him.
The dispute appears to be the latest in a string of incidents in which the southern African nation’s government has resorted to strong-arm or unorthodox tactics against foreign investors it believes are circumventing labour laws.
Dangote Industries Zambia (DIZ) has 400 workers building a $400 million dollar cement plant, a staff count that should rise to 2,000 when production starts in November, deputy industry minister Miles Sampa told Reuters.
Aliko Dangote: Cement company in bribery row
Aliko Dangote: Cement company in bribery row
During a tour of the plant in Ndola, 300 km (188 miles) north of the capital Lusaka, labour minister Fackson Shamenda said a Nigerian executive seconded to the Zambian unit tried to bribe him at a hotel a week ago.
The company described the allegations them as “malicious misinformation”.
“For the record, DIZ categorically deny any claims of corruption and bribery and reserve our rights on this matter,” it said in a statement.
Shamenda did not specify what was offered by the executive and said he rejected it because he had critical labour issues to sort out with the company – owned by Nigerian Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man – and did not want to be compromised.
“He told me that it was a tradition in their culture to give someone a token of appreciation. Maybe his idea was that I turn a blind eye to what is happening at Dangote,” Shamenda said, according to local media reports.
Shamenda also said DIZ should offer workers at the company permanent employment and allow them to join unions.
“There is no union and according to the reports I have received those who have attempted to join unions have had their contracts terminated,” Shamenda told Reuters on Tuesday.
“I have asked the labour commissioner to investigate and tell me all the categories of employees because the reports we have received indicate there are no permanent employees.”
DIZ said in its statement that Shamenda had made four surprise visits to the cement plant in the last four months, prompting the company to complain about his conduct as it felt that the minister was deliberately looking for wrongdoing.
“DIZ was beginning to feel harassed and unwelcome in Zambia and immediately brought this to the attention of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry,” it said in the statement.
A year ago, Zambia revoked the work permit of the chief executive of Konkola Copper Mines, owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources, and threatened to rip up its mining licence when the firm announced plans to lay off 1,500 workers


Monday, 15 September 2014

In Petition To Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Group Accuses Governor Obiano Of Bribing Supreme Court Justices

A non-governmental group called Anambra Watch has sent a petition to Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Aloma Miriam Mukthar, accusing Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State of using a front to offer bribes to Supreme Court justices who will be determining several appeals arising from the November 16, 2013 governorship election.
The petition, which was signed by Chukwuka Okoye and Peter Nwafor, alleged that the state governor was trying to pervert the course of justice. The petitioners pointed fingers at Alphonsus Uba Igbeke as the agent of the governor in the scheme to bribe justices. According to them, Mr. Igbeke, popularly known as Ubanese, had been paying visits to the residences of the various justices who have been named as members of a panel to hear appeals filed against Governor Obiano by candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). The appellants are praying the apex court to rule that INEC’s declaration of Mr. Obiano of the All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA) as the duly elected governor of Anambra State was flawed and should be nullified. Both the governor and Ubanese are from the same area.
The Supreme Court has set aside Tuesday September 16 to hear the election appeals. However, the petitioners informed CJ Mukthar that Governor Obiano has recruited Mr. Igbeke to meet with some of the Supreme Court justices on the panel and offer them huge sums in foreign currencies.
The petitioners wrote: “Our investigations show that Chief Igbeke had visited three of the justices in their respective official residence in the last one week. Your lordship may wish to call for security reports from the operatives of Department of State Security Services (DSS) who monitor daily activities and movements at the homes of the justices.
As your lordship will recall, Chief Igbeke is not new in the act of perverting the cause of justice. It was Igbeke who bribed some clerks working in the chambers of Justice Galadima who leaked the judgment in the appeal involving Senator Margery Okadigbo and Uba Igbeke. The judgment was posted in the Internet before its delivery after Chief Igbeke failed in his bid to bribe all the justices in the panel to give judgment in his favor. The aim was to blackmail the justices who refused to be compromised. The Federal Judicial Service Commission while dismissing the staff of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal who aided Chief Igbeke in the act of infamy recommended that Chief Igbeke himself be prosecuted by the Attorney-General of the Federation for masterminding the leakage of the judgment.  So with this notoriety it beats our imagination why some of the justices of the highest court in the land would be disposed to receiving such a character in their official residence or elsewhere to discuss cases coming up before them.”
The panel of seven justices constituted to hear the appeals against Mr. Obiano’s election is headed by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the second most senior justice after the CJ. Noting that President Goodluck Jonathan is interested in the victory of Governor Obiano, the petitioners alleged that Justice Mohammed would go out of his way to please the president in order to be nominated as the next Chief Justice.
The Supreme Court panel is expected to rule on the following issues:
 1. Whether Mr. Obiano truly engaged in acts of multiple registrations as a voter contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act which forbids such acts,
2. Whether the alleged multiple registrations if proven are enough to disqualify Obiano from contesting the Governorship of Anambra State,
3. In the light of several conflicting judgments relied upon, whether Mr. Obiano or Chike Obidigbo was the authentic governorship candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the election,
4. Whether the voters register used in the conduct of Anambra State governorship election, which INEC admitted it revised and updated ‘to correct errors’ less than three days to the holding of the election, is a valid voter’s register when the Electoral Act expressly prohibited such action,
 5. Whether the postponement and holding of election in Obosi ward in Idemili North local government area on a Sunday was not calculated to disenfranchise over 51,230 voters in that Christian populated area and a presumed stronghold of All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Chris Ngige,
6. Whether the Supplementary election held by INEC in 16 local government areas of Anambra State on the 30th of November 2013 after it had declared the entire election as “inconclusive” is valid in law,
7. Whether the failure of entire staff of INEC that conducted the election to swear to the mandatory oath of neutrality before the High Court registry was enough to nullify the entire election,
8. Whether the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in Anambra including the PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Tony Nwoye, his parents, siblings and relations did not amount to a substantial violation of the Electoral Act that should result in the outright nullification of the election,
9. Whether the respondents’ brief of argument filed out of time by lawyers to Mr. Obiano and APGA respectively will be countenanced in the determination of the appeals in the absence of any application by them to regularize their papers.
10. Whether the Election Petition Tribunal and Court of Appeal had the jurisdiction to entertain allegations of multiple possession of voter’s card as a ground for disqualification of a candidate under the constitution.
The petitioners commended Justice Aloma Mukthar for her “uncommon work” to “sanitize the judicial process, combat judicial corruption and enthrone fairness in the judiciary,” adding that her efforts had yielded fruit with the firing of “bad eggs in the judiciary from the Federal and State High Courts.” They regretted that some people in the society were “bent on sabotaging these noble efforts, thus the pressing need for eternal vigilance on the part of all stakeholders.”
In its petition, Anambra Watch requested “the immediate reconstitution of the panel,” urging the CJN to personally head a new panel.
Justice Mohammed may be elevated to the position of CJN once the incumbent retires mid-November this year. A new CJN is appointed by the Nigerian President on the recommendation of National Judicial Council, but subject to Senate approval.
The other members of the Supreme Court panel on the Anambra governorship election are Justices Muntaka-Coomasie, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, Nwali Ngwuta, Kumai Akaas, Olukayode Ariwoola and Inyang Okoro.
In May 2014, in a case involving Mr. Igbeke and Senator Margery Okadigbo, a full text of the judgment written by Justice Suleiman Galadima of the Supreme Court was leaked and published online at least 24 hours before it was delivered. An investigation by the Federal Judicial Service Commission discovered that Mr. Igbeke and one Collins Okechukwu had bribed some of the law clerks in the Supreme Court in order to obtain an advanced copy of the judgment.
The FJSC fired six court clerks implicated in the deal. It also recommended the immediate prosecution of Mr. Igbeke, but the Nigerian Attorney-General has yet to act on the recommendation more than a year later.
A source close to former Governor Peter Obi said that Governor Obiano’s use of Ubanese to bribe the justices of the apex court is due to the strained relationship existing between Obiano and his predecessor, who was his godfather. Governor Obiano and Mr. Obi are no longer on speaking terms, said the source, adding that the two men fell out when the current governor began marginalizing his predecessor in public events. He added that Governor Obi has asked Obiano to refund a huge sum of more than six billion naira, which the former governor claimed he spent to install the latter as the governor of Anambra State. The source said Mr. Obiano had rebuffed the demand, thereby setting the stage for the current crisis in APGA where at least five APGA members in the House of Representatives had defected to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party at the instance of Mr. Peter Obi.
Before the friction between the two men, Mr. Obi had been using his connection with the Presidency to swing judgments at the Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in favor of Obiano. “Okwute Ndigbo [Peter Obi’s praise name] has decided that this time around, he should leave Chief Obiano to cater for himself since Obiano is poking fingers in his master’s eye,” said the source close to the former governor.
Mr. Obi is expected to announce his formal defection to PDP at a grand rally where President Goodluck Jonathan would announce his declaration to contest the 2015 Presidential election. Governor Obiano had also reportedly made a promise to President Jonathan that he, Obiano, would be joining the PDP if the Supreme Court grants him victory.
The Supreme Court is expected to deliberate on the issues and deliver judgment on or before September 25, 2014 when the 60 days allowed by the Constitution to determine the appeals would elapse.
If the appeals succeed, a fresh governorship election will be held in Anambra State, possibly exclude Mr. Obiano from participating.