The United States government has severely indicted Nigerian government officials of massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption, affecting all levels of government and the security forces. “Officials,” the report said, “frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.” It estimated that almost $7 billion must have been stolen in the period under review. The report observed that “There was a widespread perception judges were easily bribed and litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favorable rulings.”
The report, under the heading “Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government,” was published under a main report on Nigeria titled, “2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” which included sections such as, “Respect for the Integrity of the Person, including Freedom from a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life; b. Disappearance; c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Prison and Detention Center Conditionsand several other sections.
The report noted that, “Public officials, including the president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at both federal and state levels), must comply with financial disclosure laws, including the requirement to declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) before assuming and after leaving office. Violators risked prosecution, but cases rarely came to conclusion. In June the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and other groups demanded President Jonathan disclose his assets from 2007 to 2012. On June 24, the president refused the request. The President’s Office and the PDP contended President Jonathan declared his assets in compliance with the provisions of section 140(1) of the constitution and submitted them to the CCB prior to his assumption of office, and there was no stipulation requiring publication of the information. On June 26, SERAP responded by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Presidency and the CCB requesting release of the information within seven days. The president had not released information on his assets by year’s end, insisting the law required declaration of assets but not publication of the report. The constitution calls on the CCB to “retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.” The Code of Conduct Act does not address the issue of publication.
In June the Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP) also filed a FOIA request with the Abuja Federal High court requesting members of the National Assembly disclose their salaries and allowances. After the National Assembly did not respond, LEDAP filed a suit in court demanding the information per the stipulations in the FOIA. The National Assembly attempted to argue the FOIA did not cover legislators’ earnings. The court disagreed and ruled against the National Assembly. National Assembly members had not disclosed their assets by year’s end.”
Most disturbing was the alleged $7 billion looted by public officials. The report detailed some of the cases, including:
“If you look at the fertilizer sector, you will agree with me that if government actors are interested, we would have continued the same story of buying all kinds of things, awarding all kinds of contracts in the name of fertilizer. But we are not doing that, we have sanitised that sector.
“Look at the power sector, when we started initially there were stories in the papers but at the end, even when I was in the US, companies from there that participated said publicly that the process was transparent and issues of corruption was not there,” he said. He was speaking a forum on Monday at Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.