December 15, 2022

Nigeria making progress in fight against corruption — UNODC

Nigeria making progress in fight against corruption — UNODC

By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, Dr. Oliver Stolpe, has said Nigeria was making progress in the fight against corruption.

Stolpe stated this at the Inter-Agency Task Team programme to mark 20 years of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), in Abuja.

He stated that the nation has one of the most robust institutional and legal means to fight corruption worldwide. Stolpe said studies conducted over the past years suggest that Nigeria is gradually being able to translate its formidable anti-corruption investments to a reduction in corruption level.

 He said, “The reports we are launching today should give us a hint on what anti-corruption agencies can do more in their respective positions while the civil society representatives will also share their perspective on what they can expect from these leaders and how to work together to achieve greater results.

 “So our aim here today is to identify what we can do differently in order to reap greater benefits from Nigeria`s anti-corruption investments.”

During the course of the event, the presentation of the preliminary findings of the study was followed by a high-level panel discussion with Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, Honorable Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice; Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Professor Isah Mohammed, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau; Professor Sadiq Radah, Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC); Ambassador Ifeyinwa Angela Nworgu, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch; Mr. Waziri Adio, Founder and Executive Director of Agora Policy; and Mr. Mubarak Idris, Member of the European Union Youth Sounding Board. 

The panellists discussed findings of the study and suggested ways for Nigeria to further enhance the impact of its anti-corruption investments. 

Mrs. Jedy-Agba outlined how her Ministry was working to improve coordination across Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies through the establishment of an inter-ministerial body overseeing and coordinating the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.   

EFCC Chairman, Bawa identified some of the drivers behind his agency’s recent successes in securing a rapidly growing number of convictions, from 195 in 2016 to 3,615 in 2022 so far. 

He explained that the EFCC had invested significant resources in training and equipping its staff adequately, while also developing new policy documents and Standard Operating Procedures to increase internal coordination and efficiency.

Professor Mohammed emphasized the benefits of digitizing and automating asset declarations by public officials, which are currently conducted through face-to-face interviews. In his view, phasing out human interactions would fast track declaration processes, free up human resources and provide greater confidentiality for the disclosure of sensitive information. 

Professor Radah of PACAC praised Nigeria for its successful recovery of ill-gotten assets, though he emphasized the need for continued improvement in this area. He insisted that “asset recovery is key to ensure that crooks never benefit from the proceeds of crime.” 

Mr. Idris stressed the importance of investing recovered assets in youth-focused projects. As a youth representative, he explained that the effective reduction in corruption would be critical for young people to have increased confidence in Government. 

With respect to the UNCAC review recommendations, Mr. Adio pointed out that “anything that is not assigned rarely gets done”. Thus, he argued that an effective way to strengthen implementation is to clearly assign recommendations to specific anti-corruption bodies. 

Ambassador Nworgu recognized the anti-corruption efforts undertaken by the Federal Government, while calling for greater engagement with State and local governments in this regard.