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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Nigerian MPs curb sleaze body
Nigeria is one of the most corrupt nations in the world

Nigeria's outgoing parliament has overturned a presidential veto and passed a bill to reduce the powers of the country's anti-corruption body.

The House of Representatives followed the Senate in passing the bill in defiance of a court injunction, a decision criticised by the president, lawyers and political commentators.

Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim said the court that made the injunction could not stop the senators from doing what he described as their parliamentary duty.

Corruption was a major issue in recent elections in Nigeria which saw victories for President Olusegun Obasanjo and his People's Democratic Party (PDP).

The parliament had previously passed the bill, reducing the anti-corruption body's powers to prosecute senior government officials, and stripping the president of the power to appoint the chairman of the agency.

But the decision was vetoed by President Obasanjo and a federal court threatened the leadership of the Senate with contempt charges if it overruled the veto.

Nigeria 'most corrupt'

The anti-graft commission, a major plank of Mr Obasanjo's fight against corruption, was set up in 2000 but so far no senior government official has been jailed.

Global corruption watchdog Transparency International recently rated Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, as one of the two most corrupt nations in the world.

"The Nigerian populace have spoken against it (the law). And if they (the lawmakers) are the representatives of the people, I think they ought to have taken that into consideration," Mr Obasanjo's spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Emma Nwosu, a political scientist, said: "This group of legislators will be remembered for making attempts to blunt the anti-corruption move of the present administration."

Analysis: Obasanjo's tough task
24 Apr 03  |  Africa
Threat to Nigeria anti-graft law
11 Mar 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Nigeria
23 Apr 03  |  Country profiles

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