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Nigerian Lawmakers, Police, Judges Are Most Corrupt —Transparency International, NASS Kicks |RN

Nigeria’s national assembly housing both the Senate and the House of the Representtatives

**National Assembly kicks

Transparency International has released a survey showing that the police, legislature and the judiciary are among the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria.

The TI, in the publication of the 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa, on Thursday, said corruption in African countries was hindering economic, political and social development.

In Nigeria, the organisation partnered Practical Sampling International for the survey, sampling 1,600 people from April 26 to May 10, 2017.

The data showed that the police topped the list of most corrupt institutions in the country at 69 per cent, followed by ‘Members of Parliament’ (60) and local government officials (55).

Others were government officials (54), judges and magistrates (51), business executives (44), presidency (43), non-governmental organisations (40), traditional leaders (35) and religious leaders (20).

The survey indicated that 47 per cent public service users had paid a bribe to the police in the previous 12 months, while 44 per cent had contributed to overall bribery rate in that period.

Others were IDs (38), utilities (34), public schools (32), public clinics and health centres (20).

Asked if the government was doing a good or bad job of fighting corruption, 59 per cent indicated ‘good’, 40 per cent said ‘bad’ and one per cent said ‘don’t know.’

On whether ordinary people could make a difference in the fight against corruption, 54 per cent said ‘yes’, 41 per cent said ‘no’, four per cent said ‘neither yes nor no’, and one per cent did not know or refused to answer.

The survey added that 43 per cent thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months.

TI said, “Corruption is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech or citizens’ right to hold governments to account. More than this, corruption affects the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

“The 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa reveals that, while most people in Africa feel corruption increased in their country, a majority also feel optimistic that they, as citizens, can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

“The report also found more than one in four people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year. This is equivalent to approximately 130 million citizens in the 35 countries surveyed.”

According to TI, the survey is the largest, most detailed survey of citizens’ views on corruption and their direct experiences of bribery in Africa, incorporating the views of more than 47,000 citizens from 35 countries across Africa.”

In their separate reactions, groups including the Coalition Against Corruption, a Yoruba group, Afenifere, supported the TI, saying the report was a true reflection of Nigeria.

The founder/Chief Executive Officer of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, told one of our correspondents that the outcome of the survey was not surprising.

Adeniran stated that recent events in the judiciary and police had shown that the level of corruption in the country was alarming.

He said, “It is obvious; even from our experience, the police, the customs and the judiciary are the cesspools of procedural corruption in Nigeria. You don’t get anything free out of those institutions. We don’t need Transparency International to tell us.

The CACOL boss criticised the practices of policemen, who popularly declare that bail is free.

He added, “Just this week, the commissioner of police in Lagos says those policemen that take bribes before they grant bail are worse than kidnappers. We also know that they hold people hostage; they go raiding people without evidence that such people raided have committed any offence.

“They get them detained, asking them to call their relatives to bail them and that bail is like a ransom that they take for their hostages.

“When you look at customs, too, you can’t clear any goods, even officially, at the ports without greasing the palms of several customs officials. All the smuggling that has been experienced in Nigeria is with the connivance of these people and several companies are not paying excise duties because some of these customs officials have reached out to them to ask for gratification.”

The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also decried the level of corruption in the country, adding that the report was an accurate reflection of the reality of governance.

Odumakin said, “What that means is that the government in Nigeria is about corruption.

I think the report cannot be faulted because every now and then, we hear of stories of stealing and corruption from all these institutions but the bottom line is that corruption is the defining act of governance in Nigeria at the moment.

“After four years of fighting corruption, we are at number 44. That tells you how endemic and deep-rooted corruption is in Nigeria. It is the foundation and the building block on which everything rests and that is why we have to address it holistically in this country.”

Reacting to the TI report, Deputy Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said the report confirmed that the fight against corruption had yet to be won in Nigeria.

He said, “This again confirms that the fight against corruption has yet to be won. This shouldn’t be an indictment though. More work needs to be done by all – government and citizens.”

But in their separate reactions, both chambers of the National Assembly faulted the report.

The House of Representatives dismissed the allegations as lacking details to prove the corruption claim. A member of the ad hoc committee on media and public affairs, Mr Bamidele Salam, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, argued that the TI report mentioned ‘parliament’ and not ‘National Assembly,’ stressing that state Houses of Assembly could also be referred to as ‘parliament.’

Salam, however, said, “We cannot take issue with TI, they are a respected organisation and they have their own methods and means of assessing institutions and organisations, some of which may not be very applicable to all systems. But I must say that wherever there are issues about corruption and transparency, they provide an opportunity for institutions to self-examine.

“So, if there are specifics that TI is bringing up – specific areas where they believe that there is no transparency or there are corrupt practices, then it will be easier for the parliament to look inwards and see what can be done to improve on its rating in that regard. In the absence of specifics, it will be difficult to just give a blanket judgment or comment about corruption. It is very easy to say that. And the specifics have to be measurable. They have to let us know what particular areas of the operations of the parliament have tendencies of corruption, so that we can then do internal assessment and if need be, cleanse it.”

The Chairman, Senate ad hoc commitee on media and public affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said the report of the TI was based on perception.

He said the opinion did not represent the reality on the ground because no scientific investigation was carried out by the body before arriving at its conclusion.

He said, “The TI report was merely the opinion expressed by some people out of all population of over 200 million citizens of this country.

“They did not use any scientific method neither did they carry out any forensic investigation.”

He said the 9th Senate was doing everything possible to change the negative perception of the people towards the parliament.

He insisted that the parliament as an institution was not corrupt and that Nigerians would soon know the importance of parliamentarians through the 9th National Assembly.

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Buhari, Governors Spend Over N241bn On Security Votes Yearly – Transparency International

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Cash found in a flat in Ikoyi, Lagos, The Republican News

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

 

Transparency International says the President, 36 governors and 774 local government chairmen across the country, spend $670m (N241bn) yearly on security votes which are not subject to audit or legislative oversight.

The Africa Director for TI’s Defence and Security Programme, Christina Hildrew, said this at a two-day event organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in Abuja on Wednesday.

The event was titled, ‘Impact of Anti-Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows: Legislative, Policy and Institutional Gaps to Investigate, Prosecute and Convict for Anti-Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flow charges.’

Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the event, Hildrew said many officials divert funds under the guise of security votes.

She added, “Security votes are opaque and corruption-prone and the security funding mechanisms widely used across Nigeria’s three tiers of government; a significant percentage of the country’s overall security spending, the secretive unaccounted for add up to an estimated $670m annually.

“Transacted mostly in cash, security votes spending is not subject to legislative oversight or independent audit because of its ostensibly secretive nature. Yet, this veil of secrecy protects many officials who misspend security votes, channel them into political activities or embezzle them outright.”

Hildrew also stated that there was a need for defence budgets and spending to be more transparent.

The TI official said while it was important to put national security in its rightful place of importance, there was also a need to ensure that those controlling the funds were being held accountable.

She added, “So, there is a wide issue in the defence sector which is defence ‘exceptionalism.’ That is the public allows the defence sector to be unaccountable for what they spend because of national security issues.

However, the defence sector should not be unaccountable to the citizens it is meant to protect and serve. So, we call for additional legislative oversight of the defence sector and we think it is important that not only parliamentary committees and audit committees and civil society have a say in how the security funds are decided but checks and balances are also put into the system so that there is accountability and transparency of what security expenditure is going to occur to ensure that it protects citizens.”

Also speaking, anti-corruption advocate with CISLAC, Vaclav Prusa, said Nigeria remained the biggest victim of illicit financial outflows in Africa.

Prusa said Nigeria loses about $25bn to money laundering every year.

He added, “Nigeria is affected by illicit financial outflows much more than the rest of the continent. In fact, the data shows that more money comes out of Nigeria than any other countries in Africa combined. We are talking about $20-25bn going out of Nigeria every year.”

When asked to evaluate the anti-corruption drive of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, Vaclav said the President had put some measures in place but it was too soon to evaluate the success or otherwise of his initiatives.

On why Nigeria was still ranked low by TI on corruption perception, Vaclav said the ranking was based on expert opinion and the perception of most Nigerians towards corruption.   (Punch)

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