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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Anti-corruption lessons for Nigerians

By Sola Odunfa
BBC, Lagos

An anti-corruption curriculum is set to be introduced acoss all public schools and universities in Nigeria.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
President Obasanjo promised to end corruption
Africa's most populous country is rated the world's second most corrupt after Bangladesh by the Berlin-based NGO, Transparency International.

The initiative is being portrayed as the latest official effort to fight the endemic corruption in the country.

The executive chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, said the government had already approved the studies and a team of experts had been set up to work on the curriculum.

Declaration

At his inauguration for the first term in 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo announced that his priority was to minimise, if not eradicate, corruption from his country's public life.

Corruption is a cankerworm which has eaten deep into society.
Prince Ibrahim, Nigeria

He set up two dedicated agencies to achieve the objective: ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

But neither body has recorded any significant progress in their assignment.

Five years after the president's declaration, Nigeria is perceived to have sunk deeper into corruption, hence its unenviable ranking by Transparency International.

No convictions

To date, ICPC is reported to have received more than 1,200 petitions on suspected cases of official corruption.

But only 31 cases involving 74 persons had been charged to court.

Poverty-stricken Nigerian woman
Nigeria's poverty fuels its corruption

Those being prosecuted include two former ministers in the Obasanjo cabinet, a former state governor and a judge of the high court.

There are as yet no convictions.

The ICPC has openly indicted 18 of Nigeria's 36 state governors for fraudulent diversion of public funds but it has not charged any of them due to their constitutional immunity from prosecution.

ICPC officials say that the governors will be arrested and charged as soon as their terms expire in 2007.

'Naira soup'

The anti-graft body complains of under-funding by the government, which results in gross under-staffing.

Mr Akanbi recently summed up the situation saying: "If the money is not there then you have to confine yourself to what you have. If I want my wife to prepare a good soup and she says it is going to cost me about 2,000 Naira and I gave her 500 Naira, she will prepare 500 Naira soup and that's what I will take."

ICPC is empowered to investigate only cases which happened after its establishment on 13 June 2000 and which are reported to it.

The time bar effectively precludes investigation of suspected cases of corruption during military rule.

The second dedicated agency, EFCC deals mainly with cases of scam letters and electronic frauds.

It has re-opened several cases which were unresolved by the police but, like ICPC, it is yet to secure any conviction.




SEE ALSO:
Suharto tops corruption rankings
25 Mar 04  |  Business


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