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Corruption in Nigerian Defence is fuelling extremism

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Systemic weaknesses in Nigerian defence’s anti-corruption systems must be addressed to fight Boko Haram. – Author

Dasuki is being arraigned for frittering away $2.1 Defence money

The Nigerian army’s fight against Boko Haram is strongly undermined by the very high risk of defence corruption, according to a new report by Transparency International. Nigerians defence institutions are ranked “E” meaning they are at a “very high risk” of corruption.

The findings show that parliamentarians fail to exercise their oversight of defence and security policy, defence budgets lack transparency despite making up for 20% of the national budget and soldiers fail to receive the necessary equipment to adequately fight Boko Haram as military hardware procurement is not scrutinised on grounds of national security. This has undermined efforts to combat the growing threat of Boko Haram.

 Positive steps have been taken by President Buhari to address corruption, including the arrest of former defence officials. The Transparency International report, however, highlights that the defence corruption problems Nigeria faces today are systemic.

Katherine Dixon, Director of Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme, said:

“In very few places globally is the dangerous correlation between corruption and insecurity as stark as it is in Nigeria. Gaping holes in military budgets, down to a lack of oversight and transparency, are contributing to a rise in support of extremism, and crucially disabling the fight against it.”

“President Buhari has made some positive efforts, but arrests of former officials aren’t enough on their own.

“Failure to get this right will see funds and weapons diverted into the hands of terrorists and the fight against Boko Haram will never be won.”

Nigeria’s ranking comes amidst a context of similar results across Africa. Transparency International’s Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index looked at 47 African nations and found the majority facing very high to critical risk of defence corruption.

Defence spending across the continent has increased by 91% across the continent yet African defence institutions have not caught up with the spending and remain largely exempt from proper legislative scrutiny. In the majority of countries, corruption is undermining public trust in the government and the armed forces, pushing citizens into the arms of organised crime and terrorist groups. Nigeria but also Mali, Niger, Chad and other countries in the Sahel must therefore address corruption risks urgently to restore stability in the region.

Salaudeen Hashim, Program Officer, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC


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