Africa

Nigeria: NGO faults government anti-corruption campaign

Protection for whistle-blowers needed as well as even-handed approach to government and opposition, says NGO report

Rafiu Oriyomi Ajakaye   | 08.03.2017
Nigeria: NGO faults government anti-corruption campaign

Lagos

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria's anti-corruption campaign appears hobbled by a lack of legislation backing the efforts as well as concerns that the crusade is skewed against the opposition, a local NGO’s report said Wednesday.

“Evidence is yet to be seen under the present administration of punitive measures meted to public officials who are non-compliant to procedures of declaring their assets and liabilities with constituted authority,” according to the report by Buharimeter, a prominent NGO dedicated to tracking the campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The credibility of the anti-corruption war seems to be withering following the president’s approach to unravelling corrupt allegations against Babachir David Lawal (secretary to the government of the federation) and Abba Kyari (chief of staff to the president),” it added.

The report, however, acknowledged the president's efforts to tackle corruption as evidenced in the recovery of at least 150 billion nair ($492 million) in looted public funds, and commended the administration for its policy offering whistle-blowers cash rewards to expose corruption.

But it warned that the policy could backfire on those who speak up and damage the campaign unless the government speeds up work on legislation to protect whistle-blowers.

The report also said only one of the 13 promises Buhari made to tackle corruption -- to publicly declare his assets -- has been fully fulfilled, while six others, such as weeding out some 50,000 fake workers from government payrolls and deepening transparency, are on the verge of being achieved. It said the remaining six have not been fulfilled.

Idayat Hassan, the NGO’s head, said in the report that government efforts to cut waste such as banning officials from flying first class are being impeded by the failure to call out and punish offenders.

She said: “Unarguably, there is a general consensus amongst Nigerians on the need to fight corruption and punish those who violate anti-graft laws. At the same time, it is important to respect the rule of law and due process.

"An analysis of the manner with which anti-graft agencies and the Department of Secret Service (DSS) are invading houses and arresting suspected corrupt officials does not depict strict adherence to principles of the rule of law and respect for human rights. Unlawful detention of suspects and blatant disregards of court orders seem to have characterized the ongoing anti-corruption war,” she added.

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