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Nigerians lament ‘monumental’ corruption

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As the world marks International Anti-Corruption Day, Nigerians have lamented widespread corruption and its devastating effects on the country.

This year, the theme is ‘United Against Corruption.’ It focuses on corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also aims to raise awareness of corruption and its prevention.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 58/4, which is the United Nations Convention against Corruption on October 31, 2003. The Assembly also designated December 9 as World Anti-Corruption Day to raise awareness about corruption and role of the Convention in battling and preventing it. The Convention came into force in December 2005.

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According to United Nations, “Every year, $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen through corruption, a sum equivalent to more than five percent of the global GDP. In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.”

In Nigeria, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), which had repeatedly alleged that corruption was worsening in the country despite being a cardinal focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, described it as monumental.

Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa, said there had been zero per cent commitment to pledges made by Buhari at the London Corruption Summit of 2016.

Musa warned that Nigeria would remain backward economically if corruption was not eliminated.

CORRUPTION, according to ActionAid Nigeria, accounts for low Foreign Direct Investment in the country.

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It noted that bribery and high-level corruption discouraged investors from doing business in the country.

Country Director of the organisation, Ene Obi, stated this at a ceremony in Abuja tagged, ‘Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C)

She observed that eliminating corruption was crucial to the future well-being of Nigeria as it would lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and ensure shared prosperity and dignity for all.

Obi stated that economic development had been stunted by corruption because it discouraged foreign direct investment. She said: “Because of the high level corruption in the country, investors, who want to do business in Nigeria, are leaving. Two firms came to Nigeria and one of them said the Kainji Dam alone could supply Nigeria light 24/7 and a few other countries around but because of corruption we are still using generators. Our economy is a generator economy and most industries that survive are a testimony of the resilience of Nigerians. Corruption discourages foreign investment and small businesses in the country often find it impossible to overcome the start-up cost required because of corruption and the cost of corruption is transferred to citizens.”

She argued that the level of crime in the country would diminish; cost of living would reduce, unemployment rate would drop, and security of life and property would improve if every citizen, regardless of social-political class and status, stood upright for Nigeria in their spaces of authority, be it the home, public/private offices or on the street.

ALSO lamenting the level of corruption in the country, Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) noted that Nigeria had lost 43 billion dollars to corruption.

The group made the disclosure at an event, tagged ‘A compendium of 100 high profile corruption cases in Nigeria’ to commemorate the anti corruption day.

It bemoaned that Nigeria ranked 34th most corrupt nation in the world with 100 open corruption cases of funds embezzlement and wrongful possession.

The compendium stresses the need for transparency and accountability as it aimed to investigate and collate otherwise isolated high profile cases of corruption and financial crimes in governments at all levels in Nigeria from 2005.

Denouncing the level of corruption, the National Coordinator, Democracy Vanguard, Adesola Soetan noted that it had graduated into ‘supersonic corruption and impunity.’

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He explained that from the compendium some cases had been open for as long as 15 years, noting that such occurrence could lead to the case dying a natural death without justice served.

“In Nigeria, power has become fastest growing industry with a huge return on investment within the shortest time,” Soetan said.

MEANWHILE, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has claimed that looting by politicians is less than what the country loses illicit financial flows. According to him, stealing by politicians represents less than 30 per cent of the losses of capital in the country

EXPRESSING concern over the endemic corruption in the land, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Umar Abba, called for the deepening of cooperation among anti-corruption agencies in the country towards improved outcomes in the fight against corruption.

Abba made the call yesterday in a webinar hosted by the Inter-Agency Task Team of anti-corruption agencies in the country to mark this year’s anti-corruption day.

He said the situation calls for unity with a common purpose to deepen cooperation and commitment to implementing the broad goals of the of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, he said.

He added that despite the long period of lockdown, the agency from January 2020, till date, recorded over 700 convictions.

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