Since returning to democracy in 1999, Nigeria has been plagued with myriad issues, which include Insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure, and epileptic electricity; corruption takes the crown among all these ugly scenarios.
Transparency International (TI), a global anti-corruption body, ranked Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa, just behind Guinea Bissau. With an abysmal 24 out of the available 100 points, Nigeria is ranked 154 out of 180 in the index.
All sectors of the country reek strongly of the odour called Corruption. It runs through every facet of the Nigerian government. From embezzlement of the citizen’s commonwealth at the top, through bribery of government agents, inflation of contracts, misappropriation of funds, money laundering activities by both private citizens and government officials, to creation of ghost workers, among a host of others.
Ahmed Idris, a one-time Accountant-General of the Federation, was arrested by one of the foremost anti-graft commissions in the country, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for his alleged involvement in an N174 billion fraud. The arrest wasn’t a shock to the average Nigerian since it’s been known that embezzlement is almost the bane of the existence of active and efficient government civil servants.
Established in 2003 by the erstwhile president, Olusegun Obasanjo, as the financial crime watchdog in the country, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has failed in its mandate to hold accountable delinquent individuals who perpetuate this crime in our clime.
The International Center for Investigative Reporting reported that out of 39 970 corruption cases investigated by the EFCC, findings show that the anti-graft body successfully recorded 2,544 convictions. This figure represents a meagre 6.36 per cent of the entire cases prosecuted by the council within nine years. The figure shows the abysmal record of the agency in prosecuting crimes committed by corrupt individuals in the country.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration rode into power with the promise of clamping down on corrupt government officials and reducing corruption’s chokehold on the economy. However, the current administration keeps shooting itself in the foot after persons facing corruption allegations are reinstated into various governmental offices after switching allegiance to the ruling party, The All Progressive Congress.
Orji Uzo Kalu, a serving senator representing Abia North, was Previously convicted of corruption charges. However, on May 8, 2020, the Supreme Court nullified the convictions the EFCC got from the court after intensive 12 years of investigations.
The honourable minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, was also granted a ministerial position in this administration although he’s currently facing corruption charges by the EFCC.
In a press briefing by The Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN), They reported that about 70 to 75 per cent of Nigeria’s national budget is lost to corrupt practices at all levels of governance in the country. If this isn’t checked, it’s bound to have devastating consequences in the foreseeable future.
Amendments should be made to the constitution, removing clauses that exclude some political offices from investigation and indictment. For example, the current constitution provides immunity from civil and criminal prosecution for the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors while in office. This phenomenon should be looked at.
Special Anti-corruption courts should be established to hasten such reported cases’ trials. These special courts will abolish unnecessary bureaucracies that inhibit the current court. They will enable that judgement to be meted out to deserving criminals who are hell-bent on ruining the country.
The anti-graft bodies should also be granted autonomy to go after allegations of corruption without interference by other organs of the government. Furthermore, appropriate funding should also be made to execute their plans. Corruption is a menace that destroys the integrity of our democracy, and all hands should be on deck to rid ourselves of this affliction.