Corruption in Nigeria

Corruption remains an important obstacle to development in Nigeria. Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, there have been few successes in the fight against corruption. Not only the Nigerian police, but also the governors of the federal states are repeatedly the focus of corruption allegations. In early April 2012, for example, the former governor of Delta State was sentenced in London to 13 years in prison for corruption running into the millions.

The anti-corruption commission “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission” (EFCC) set up by the government since 2003 has also had some successes in the fight against economic and drug-related crime. In the run-up to the 2011 elections, the anti-corruption commission “EFCC” had corrupt politicians excluded from the elections. To this end, the EFCC authority published a list of 55 corrupt politicians in October 2010, including many representatives of the ruling PDP (Peoples Democratic Party).

According to ehealthfacts, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) set up by the Obasanjo government (1999-2007) in 2004 has already paid off. Nigeria’s participation in the EITI was a key requirement for Nigeria to have much of its debt canceled by the Paris Club in 2005. In addition, the Business Anti-Corruption Portal offers comprehensive and practical business tools to support the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

In 2014, Goodluck Jonathan suspended central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi after he accused Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of embezzling more than US $ 20 billion earlier this year. Against this background, it must be questioned how seriously Nigeria actually takes the fight against corruption.

The newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2015 has so far taken strict action against the pronounced corruption in the country. In August 2015 Buhari changed the entire management of the state oil company “Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)”. On November 18, he ordered the arrest of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s security adviser. He is accused of buying more than US $ 2 billion in weapons that were supposed to be used to combat the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, but were never delivered (“phantom contracts” were awarded).

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015, promised to work vehemently against corruption in the country and has been campaigning against corruption since his election:

  • A number of high-ranking confidants of former President Jonathan are now on trial for corruption.
  • At an anti-corruption summit in London, to which David Cameron invited in May 2016, Buhari confirmed that corruption was still a central problem for Nigeria. At the same time, however, he pointed out to the British Prime Minister the role of the western industrialized nations in the business of corruption. In particular, he demanded that the money that the former Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha had taken out of the country between 1993 and 1998 and deposited in accounts in Great Britain (and other countries) should be returned to Nigeria. In contrast to Great Britain and the USA, Switzerland has already returned part of the stolen national wealth to Nigeria.
  • In 2016, the Nigerian government cut around 50,000 employees from the state payroll. These were formally listed and paid as civil servants, but never showed up for work. The cuts save the state around 630 million euros annually, announced President Muhammadu Buhari. He called on Nigerians to report corruption in the state apparatus and promised the whistleblowers special protection and a reward of up to five percent of the amount saved.
  • In April 2017, the anti-corruption commission “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)” made a spectacular find that shook even tough Nigerians: in Lagos, officials found an apartment full of banknotes totaling 43 million US dollars. At first it was unclear who had deposited the money there. Then it turned out that the Nigerian secret service had rented the apartment. Allegedly the money is needed for secret operations. President Buhari dismissed then the head of the secret Ayo Oke and the Cabinet Chief Lawal. The two are said to have stolen more than 800,000 US dollars, which were earmarked for humanitarian purposes in the starving north-east of the country.
  • According to Transparency International, the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces are also affected by massive corruption. For example, former military personnel with crooked arms deals stole up to 15 billion dollars (13.5 billion euros) from the budget for defense and security. The armed forces now lack this money in the fight against the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram. According to Transparency International, the reforms initiated by President Buhari in the Ministry of Defense are too slow and without a discernible strategy.
  • In August 2017, a Nigerian court ordered the confiscation of a luxury apartment complex that was allegedly bought with misappropriated money by former Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who served under Goodluck Jonathan’s government from 2010 to 2015. The value of the confiscated property is estimated at 31.3 million euros. The former oil minister is suspected of profiting from a widespread corruption network in the country. Investigations against Alison-Madueke are currently also being conducted in the US and Great Britain. Shortly before the 2019 elections, Nigeria issued an arrest warrant for the former oil minister.

Despite Buhari’s efforts to combat the widespread corruption in the country, little progress has been made in recent years.

According to the 2019 Corruption Index (Transparency International), Nigeria ranks 146th out of 180 countries. Much of the money that is illegally taken and left the country ends up in Dubai. Thus, Dubai is a good place for Nigeria’s political elites to hide their ill-gotten gains and enjoy luxury real estate worth millions. One found outthat politically exposed Nigerians, so-called “politically exposed persons (PEPs)”, own around 800 properties in Dubai, which are valued at well over 146 billion naira (400 million US dollars). This is roughly two-thirds of the Nigerian Army’s annual budget and more than three times the annual budget of the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission. This ownership of property in Dubai is distributed among all political, ethnic and religious elite groups from Nigeria.

Location of Nigeria

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