- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Friday, 08 June 2012 14:43
- Written by Elombah.com
This is a report by US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborCountry Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 - S.4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency: The law provides criminal penalties for official
corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces. The constitution provides immunity from civil and criminal prosecution to the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors while in office.
There was a widespread perception that judges were easily bribed and that litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favorable rulings.
Police corruption remained rampant, particularly at highway checkpoints. Police routinely stopped drivers who did not commit traffic infractions, refusing to allow them to continue until they paid bribes. The Office of the Inspector General of Police attempted to strengthen the Police Monitoring Unit, which was charged with visiting police stations to search officers for signs of accepting bribes; however, the unit remained ineffective and made no arrests by year’s end. Citizens could report incidents of police corruption to the NHRC; however, the NHRC did not act on such complaints during the year, and no other mechanism existed to investigate security force abuse (see section 5).
In August 2010 HRW released Everyone’s in on the Game, a report on corruption and human rights abuses by the police. HRW compiled information from 145 interviews and documented pervasive police extortion with impunity committed by police officers throughout the country. Police demanded bribes, threatened arrest and physical harm, and enforced a system of “returns” in which officers must pay up the chain of command a share of the money they extorted from the public. This system undermined the rule of law and created a large disincentive for superior officers to hold their subordinates accountable for extortion and other abuses.
Public officials, including the president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at both federal and state levels), must comply with financial disclosure laws, including the requirement to declare their assets before assuming and after leaving office. Violators risked prosecution, but cases rarely came to conclusion. On October 26, the Code of Conduct Tribunal commenced the trial of former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who allegedly failed to disclose multiple foreign bank accounts he operated while serving as governor. There was no decision in the case by year’s end.
The EFCC’s anticorruption efforts were largely ineffectual. The 2008 replacement of its internationally respected chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, and transfer of many of its senior personnel raised questions about the government’s commitment to fighting corruption. On November 23, President Jonathan removed EFCC Chair Farida Waziri after credible allegations appeared that she was engaged in corrupt practices.
On August 25, HRW released Corruption on Trial, a report on the record of the EFCC. The report examined the EFCC’s record of conviction and prosecution of members of the political elite implicated in corruption under Ribadu and his replacement Waziri. The report found that, although the EFCC had done a competent job of prosecuting apolitical financial crimes, it had less success in high-profile political corruption cases. .
Despite the arrest of several high-ranking officials by the EFCC, allegations continued that agency investigations targeted individuals who had fallen out of favor with the government, while those who were in favor continued their activities with impunity. Since 2005 the EFCC prosecuted 26 nationally prominent public officials and recovered 1.7 trillion naira ($10.5 billion). However, only four of these officials--former inspector general of police Tafa Balogun, former Bayelsa State governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Edo State governor Lucky Igbinedion, and PDP chieftain and former Nigerian ports authority chairman Olabode George--were convicted. The courts granted bail to all the others.
In May the EFCC arrested former minister of works and housing Hassan Lawal for the mismanagement of 50 billion naira ($308 million). Their trials continued at year’s end. In June the EFCC arrested Dimeji Bankole, former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada for the alleged misappropriation of one billion naira ($6.2 million) and 40 billion naira ($247 million), respectively.
In October the EFCC arrested four former governors who vacated office earlier in the year, including former Ogun governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Oyo governor Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Nasarawa governor Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, and former Gombe governor Muhammed Danjuma Goje. The four allegedly misappropriated or stole 58 billion naira ($358 million), 25 billion naira ($154 million), 18 billion naira ($111 million), and 12.8 billion naira ($79 million), respectively. Their trials began in December and continued at year’s end.
Former Delta State governor James Ibori was acquitted on 170 counts of corruption charges. He continued to face court charges in the United Kingdom for money laundering and other financial crimes stemming from embezzlement during his government tenure. The United Arab Emirates extradited Ibori to the United Kingdom, where he was scheduled to stand trial in February 2012.
In May 2010 authorities arraigned former PDP national chairman Vincent Ogbulafor on 17 criminal counts of corruption and money laundering in the amount of 2.3 billion naira ($14 million). Ogbulafor filed a petition to dismiss the charges. There were no new developments in the case by year’s end.
In August 2010 Attorney General Mohammed Adoke announced that the government could not authenticate the Pius Okigbo Panel report on former military president and general Ibrahim Babangida, which charged that Babangida mismanaged 12.4 billion naira ($76 million) during his administration. The civil society group Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) accused the attorney general of a cover-up. A federal high court was scheduled to announce a ruling on July 28, but did not do so by year’s end.
On October 20, the federal high court in Ado-Ekiti, rearraigned former Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayos. In 2006 he was accused of laundering 1.4 billion naira ($8.6 million) while in office. The case continued at year’s end.
On May 28, President Jonathan signed into law the Nigerian Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law allows any person to request information from a government office. The office must grant access to the information or explain why access is denied within seven days of receiving the request, or transfer the request to the appropriate office within three days. The FOIA makes it the responsibility of all public offices to keep records and provides immunity for public officers against any form of civil or criminal proceeding for “disclosure in good faith of any information” pursuant to the FOIA. The act provides a 30-day window within which anyone denied access by any public institution can bring the matter to court for a judicial review. The act includes a fine of 500,000 naira ($3,083) for any institution or public officer who wrongfully denies access to information or records. Destruction of records is a felony punishable with a minimum penalty of one year’s imprisonment under the act.
Civil society groups introduced a number of cases at the national and state level to test the FOIA during the year. For example, in September the SERAP brought a case against the Oyo State government after being denied access to information on state funding for primary education. The case continued at year’s end.