Corruption index: CISLAC wants special courts, 2017 strategy enforcement

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has urged the Federal Government to take drastic measures on anti-corruption efforts saying the latest ranking of global corruption index showing that Nigeria is slipping is worrisome.

A new report by the Transparency International (TI) shows that perception of corruption in Nigeria has worsened between 2016 and 2017 with Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 countries assessed in 2017 and also showing that the country scored 27 points out of 100 points index.

CISLAC Senior Program Officer Okeke Anya, integrated expert and anti-corruption department head of CISLAC Vaclav Prusa and a legal officer Bathsheba Tagwai told newsmen in Abuja that Nigeria in 2016 scored 28 points and ranked 136th showing that Nigeria slips further down as the fight against corruption stagnates.

“On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria falls with 27 points hopelessly behind. In West Africa, Nigeria ranks out of 17 countries second worst leaving only Guinea Bissau behind,” Anya said.

According to him this fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels.

He said that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian tax payers around 25 percent of annual GDP.

“Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges. CISLAC notes that anti-corruption agencies have accelerated the rate of convictions on anti-corruption charges. The EFCC for example has in 2016/17 brought 286 cases to conviction. However, the majority are rather insufficient cases with little impact of returned assets into the state budget and no effect on unfavourable public opinion.

“There is a reason to suspect that judiciary is either not able or willing to prosecute the VIP cases of senior public servants and elected politicians who have either directly plundered lucrative Nigerian state resources or are at least responsible for the catastrophic lack of oversight over public funds as mandated by the Constitution,” he said.

He said promising steps like the drafting of the first-ever National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2017 have been undertaken, but little or nothing has been done to implement it.

While saying that no effort has been made to expose the strategy to the public let alone make public participate in implementation, he said such half-way abandoned projects are unlikely to convince Nigerians and the international community about the seriousness to fight corruption.

He regret that the National Assembly has delayed the confirmation of 60 nominees for leadership of various institutions, including agencies vital to fight corruption, saying the development is undermining governance and complicating the ongoing fight against corruption in the country.

He among others call for the immediate appointment and inauguration of the National Procurement Council as provided in the Public Procurement Act to curb continued systemic corruption in the nation’s procurement process and persons essential for smooth functioning of anti-corruption institutions.

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