•Police maintain lead in practice
•Judiciary rakes in more money from it
•Power, Education, Health sectors also monitored
•Govt’s anti-corruption efforts ‘inadequate, unconvincing’
•Most leaders corrupt, pursue personal interests
By Henry Ojelu
In the last two decades, successive assessments of Nigeria’s corruption status by various international organizations, consistently rated the country among the most corrupt countries in the world.
In a Transparency International corruption survey conducted in 1999, Nigeria was rated as the second most corrupt country in the world.
When a similar survey was conducted in 2009, out of 180 countries sampled, Nigeria was ranked 130 in corruption index. In the latest Transparency International ranking, released in 2018, Nigeria is ranked 144. With these consistent poor rating, Nigeria remains a talking point on every corruption discussion locally and internationally.
While there is a general consensus backed by facts that Nigeria is indeed corrupt, little is known about its spread among the various institutions and sectors in the country. For instance, while the police cut an inglorious image of an epitome of a corrupt law enforcement agency, there was no available data to prove that assertion.
This was also the case in other public institutions perceived as corrupt. A survey conducted by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP has however put the issues to rest. The national survey carried out in November and December 2018, to assess the state of corruption in public institutions covered the police, judiciary, power, education and health sectors.
The survey titled ‘Nigeria: Corruption Assessment Performance Survey’ was published as part of the organization’s implementation of the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) project funded with UK aid from the British people.
SERAP however noted during the official presentation of the report in Lagos earlier this week, that the views expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official statement. The 57 page report captured the views of 2,655 Nigerians across Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano, Ondo, Lagos, Rivers and Enugu states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The report affirmed that the Nigeria Police Force is the most corrupt institution in the country. On the prevalence of bribery in the five institutions surveyed, the police Force was the most adversely ranked.
Specifically the study revealed that for every 100 police interactions reported by the respondents, there was a bribe paid in 54 interactions. The prevalence levels stood at 37% in the power sector and 18% in education, 17.7% in the judiciary and 14% in the health sector.
The report also revealed that there was a 63% probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he or she interacted with the police. The likelihood of bribery in the power sector stood at 49%. With the chances of encountering bribery at the judiciary, education and health services standing at 27%, 25% and 20% respectively.
On the share of national bribe received by each of the various institutions under focus, the police and judiciary had the largest proportion of total bribes paid at 33% and 31% respectively. Bribes paid for education, power and health services accounted for 19%, 10.9 and 5% respectively of all bribes reported.
Interestingly, the report highlighted that despite the notoriety of the police in recording most bribes, the judiciary got the biggest chunk of the money paid out for corruption. The average amount of bribe paid by the respondents was highest among those who paid to the judiciary at about Naira 108,000 (US$ 298). All the other institutions ranked lower on this variable with N12,253 and 11,566 reportedly paid to the police and education sectors, and N6,462 and N5,143 paid for health and power services respectively.
On whether it is possible to get services from government agencies without paying bribe, 51% of the individuals that paid bribes to the police and 35% to the power sector believed that was the only way to access the services sought from the institutions. The ranking of the education sector and the judiciary was less adverse with 16% perceiving bribery as the main avenue of accessing services in the institutions, and health services recording 13%.
Assessment of FG anti-corruption war
The survey assessed the impact of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight in the last four years in the education, health, energy, police and judiciary sectors. It concluded that despite the fact that anti-graft war is a cardinal programme of the current administration, corruption has not abated.
In fact, majority of the Nigerians, whose views were captured in the report, believe that in spite of government’s anti-graft crusade, the level of corruption in the country will rise “in the coming year,” rather than reduce.
They were also of the view that government’s anti-corruption efforts are “inadequate and unconvincing.” They hinged their skepticism on the fact that “elections do not result in a different government,” adding that “most leaders are corrupt and only pursue personal interests.”
From the analysis of the anti-corruption legal and institutional framework in Nigeria, the report identified cross-cutting issues fuelling corruption in the country. It listed the factors as follows: lack of political goodwill to consistently enforce the different anti-corruption laws; inadequate funding for the various anti-corruption agencies; weak public support and/or ownership of anti-corruption initiatives; poor clarity of roles between various anti-corruption agencies; and public perceptions of politicization of corruption arrests and prosecutions.
Following its key findings, SERAP made strong recommendation on how the issues identified could be handled. Part of the recommendation reads: “The Federal government should establish an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a transparent, comprehensive, and impartial investigation into systemic corruption within the Nigeria Police Force, judiciary, and the ministries of power, education and health.”
“The Inspector General of Police should receive and investigate complaints of bribery and corruption against police officers filed by members of the public. The police should liaise with community leaders and civil society organizations in regard to incidents of police bribery and corruption within the community.”
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council should identify and review all outstanding cases of judicial corruption and refer such cases to appropriate anti-corruption agencies. They should apply the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in a consistent and transparent manner, with full respect for the fundamental guarantees of fair trial and due process.”
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC should publish annual reports of all activities involving the judiciary, including expenditure, and provide the public with reliable information about its governance and organization, including the number of judges found to be corrupt, as well as ensure that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges make periodic asset disclosures.”
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), commended SERAP for the report, which he described as a “confirmation that the masses are united in demanding a new society where public funds will not be criminally diverted by unpatriotic elements but channeled towards the development of the country.”
Renowned professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode said the report had put the country in the spotlight. He stated that the conscience of Nigerians against corruption must be sustained if progress must be made in the fight against corruption.
Some of the dignitaries that attended the launch of the report include France Ambassador represented by Mr. Blanc Barllulemy, Director General of Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) represented by Barr. Mrs. Amaka Obinna, Statistician General of Nigerian Bureau of Statistics represented by Mrs Lola Talabi-Oni, CBN Governor represented by Dr. O. E. Olowofeso, Attorney General of Edo State represented by Mr George Ntor, Chairman of Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) represented by Mr Olusoji Ola, Inspector-General of Police represented by ACP Saadat Ismail, Professor Ayo Atsenuwa, Chairman of ICPC represented by Mr. Japhet Udeani and Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, founder of Premium Times.