RIGHTSView: AS CORRUPTION AND INSECURITY STIFLE AFRICA’S GROWTH

Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 4 June 2014 | 3,399 times

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At exactly 6 a.m. on a recent Monday morning, I was rudely awoken by the sad breaking news of a bomb explosion in Nyanya, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, which reportedly resulted in scores of fatalities, made up mostly of the struggling masses who had just woken up from their ramshackle huts in distant villages to proceed to Abuja in search of what to eat. 

For the benefit of those unaware of how Abuja has become the perfect scenario of class segregated society, I will offer the following explanation. The developed and advanced segments of the Federal Capital Territory made up mostly of the Abuja Municipal Area Council are occupied by mostly few people who can afford the crazy rents and other service charges that confront the occupants on a daily basis. An average one-room self contained apartment in a place like Maitama [the most sophisticated residential area for the elite) goes for as huge as N1 million and prospective tenants are compelled to pay for two years.

The same extortion goes on proportionately in places like Asokoro, Wuse II, Garki and Gwarimpa estates, although the cost varies progressively. This crazy cost of accommodation has made it imperative that over 75 per cent of the peasants and low level civil servants, including teachers who work in the government offices, to migrate to distant villages in Nasarawa and Niger states, to stay at fairly affordable, but poorly developed houses.

This is the category of persons that were mostly bombed out of existence in the early Monday morning [April 14, 2014] bomb attack by suspected armed Islamic insurgents as these poor class of persons were struggling to gain their way to the few available rickety buses provided for commercial services by the grossly incompetent officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority.

This very ugly bomb blast is a return to the very worrying dimension of targeted attacks of specific government institutions by suspected armed members of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents some few years back.

These armed insurgents had earlier attacked the United Nations building and the Force Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force. Sadly, till date, no single conviction

and/or arrest of the suspects responsible for these dastardly act of violence have made, even as the Police as an institution has continued to operate as if everything is normal.

I have said much about the ineffectiveness of the nation’s policing institutions and have also proffered workable panacea on how best to reform the decadent police force. Fortunately, a former Georgian president, who visited Nigeria, was quoted in the media as advancing the same sets of solution I had suggested in several articles in which I called for the overhaul and total disbandment and reorganisation of the Nigerian Police. He, however, added a new dimension to my call, when he stated that in his country, the customs, immigration and police forces were all disbanded and reorganised which have facilitated the emergence of a new Georgia.

May I adopt the suggestion of this gentleman from Georgia, because the ineptitude of customs and immigration make it possible for small arms and other assorted weapons to flood into Nigeria from the porous borders, even as these customs and immigration officials are busy collecting bribes from these arms importers.  

For now, I will proceed to tackle the menace of corruption which is another layer of the problem that has created Nigeria’s current security nightmare and will begin by commending the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN),  for making bold statements and taking courageous steps to tackle these two hydra-headed monsters of corruption and terrorism, despite existing legal encumbrances and challenges with never ending adjournments and slow dispensation of justice.

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has recently disclosed that it will make use of the recently signed anti-terrorism legislation to prosecute suspected terrorists, even as the son of the late military dictator Mohammed Abacha was dragged to court for alleged theft of several hundreds of billions of public funds that disappeared at the time of his late father’s infamous military junta. This is the umpteenth time that a member of this family would be taken to court on charges of theft of public fund.

Talking about corruption, Nigeria and other African ministers of finance at the just concluded IMF/World Bank group meetings have urged the multilateral institutions to help Africa put a stop to the over $50 billion that leaves the continent annually.

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the Group of African Finance Ministers, requested that the Bank and the Fund should look into the issue of illicit financial outflows from the continent.

Specifically, finding by a panel chaired by former South Africa president, Thabo Mbeki, revealed that about $50 billion a year is disappearing from the continent. It is almost certain that the bulk of the stolen money is from Nigeria.

The World Bank and IMF will help in two ways: one is capacity building, because the need for specialised skills and manpower to be able to deal with transfer, pricing, over invoicing, and missed pricing can never be over emphasised.

These Bretton Woods institutions will also help, through information sharing. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, it could be recalled, is a product of the World Bank and so Nigerians expect that she would use her connection rightly to put into action these two recommendations as ways of stopping the proliferation of massive capital flight from Nigeria by corrupt government officials and their criminal collaborators in the private sector.

While I strongly support the finance ministers in their current campaign to end illicit money transfer, it is also imperative that the member-nations of the African Union should individually tighten up their anti-graft legislative frameworks and resolve to punish corrupt officials with the stiffest legal sanctions, including forfeiture of proceeds of crime and the death penalty.

My take in this piece is to call for the disbandment of the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service, and the reconstitution of same institutions with young Nigerians with unimpeachable crime-free records. As long as the three institutions are infested deeply with personnel who are prone to corruption, no matter what measures are adopted, insecurity and graft will continue to constitute veritable grave threats to the corporate existence of Nigeria. Let us kill the monster by cutting off its head. No half measure will work.

RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).


Source: News Express

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