THE ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE OF EFCC AND ICPC ON ASSETS RECOVERY AND RETURN IN NIGERIA UNDER UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION

THE ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE OF EFCC AND ICPC ON ASSETS RECOVERY AND RETURN IN NIGERIA UNDER UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0       INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Corruption is a global malaise which has not been known to spare any country in the world. This entail that, corruption is a common phenomenon found not only in the developing countries and societies, but also in the so – called advanced societies in Europe, America, Japan and Russia despite their level of development. However, its depth and span of existence in Nigeria has created the negative impression that it is indigenous to the nation. Corruption is a recurring decimal in the Nigerian public service and to socio-economic and political development of the country. Alabi and Fashagba (2010: 1) observed that, one major challenge to Nigeria’s search for enduring socio-economic, political and technological development as well as efficient and productive utilization of allocated resources in the new millennium is the pervasive corrupt practices in the polity. In a related view Ango (1986:9) stated that, “no doubt, corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian Society, so much so that, I believe it is at present the greatest obstacles to national development” corruption appears to be seen in some quarter as something worthy of accommodation. This Ogundeji (2000:7) put across thus;

Corruption has had such a good run in our schema of things that many compatriots are daily seeking examples to authenticate why the madness may essentially be accommodated as Nigeria’s peculiar cross, a defying trait of a people.

Events in Nigeria have established without doubt massive waste and distortions inflicted on the people and systems as a result of corruption. This is evident by Achabe (1983:39) quoting the National Concorde and Daily Time of Monday, May 16, 1983 that, “the Federal government is losing N50 million every month as salaries to non-existent worker. In the course of one year the Nigeria loses N600 million in this particular racket. With this huge amount of money been drain away just for nothing, Achabe observed as at 1983 that;

With N600 million Nigeria could build more international airport like the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos; or if we are not keen on more airports the money could buy us three refineries, or build us dual express motor way from Lagos to Kaduna or pay the salary of 10,000 workers on grade level 01 for forty years.

Appreciating the predicament the former President Obasanjo, in Shehu (2006:87) stated that,

The impact of official corruption is so rampant and has earned Nigeria a very bad image at home and abroad. Besides, it has distorted and retrogressive development. Our infrastructures – NEPA, NITEL, Roads, Railway, Education, Housing and other social services were allowed to decay and collapse. All these have brought the situation of chaos and near despair…

Corruption does not operate in a vacuum but in a social context especially in administrative sphere. Anugwom (1977), Nwachukwu (1987) and Achabe (1983) have identified it as a cog in the wheel of the progress of the public service in Nigeria. Indeed, in many ways it can be argued that the popular diagnosis of the root of Nigeria’s political and under-development since independence is the fact of pervasive corruption in public life. For example, when the Nigeria military made its political debut by subordinating other organs of state to itself in 1966 the war against corruption was core aspect of their raison d’etre. In his celebrated broadcast of January 15, 1966, major Nzeogwu proclaimed inter alia;

The aim of the Revolutionary Council is to establish a strong, united and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal… our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribe and demand ten percent, those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as minister or VIP’s at least the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupt our society and put Nigeria calendar back by their words and deeds (Ademoyega 1981:87).

Despite the corruption crusade of the military interventionists, they were themselves caught in the web of corruption. Acknowledging the corrupt nature of the military Dudley (1982:112) noted that, the effects of years of dictatorial and corrupt governance by successive military administration are glaring manifest in the poor state of development in all the sectors of the nation’s life especially the level of poverty and low quality of life of its people, the oil boom, arising from the sudden upsurge in the foreign revenue from the petroleum products exports fuelled the growth of corruption under the various military administration. The military has been blamed for allowing corruption to grow hydra-headed, stifling development (Shehu 2006:87).

This situation is reflected in dysfunction of infrastructure and support services, whereby funds available for projects are diverted to unproductive use or embezzled. Corruption mostly occurs at the point of interface between the public and private sectors, where there is a direct responsibility for the provision of a desired service or the application of specific regulation or levies (Onuh, 2000:5). In Africa corruption flourishes as luxuriantly as the bush and the weed which it so much resemble, taking the goodness from the soil and suffocating the growth of plants which have been carefully and expensively bred and tended. The forces ranged against it are negligible (Wraith and Simpkins 1963:12). The level of corruption which was observed by these writers about forty eight years ago is mere chicken feed compared with corruption now prevalent in Africa in the recent time. Corruption has grown beyond imagination and to a degree which boggles the mind (Adebayo 2004:19). In Nigerian public service, corruption had played an active part in stunting the growth of the nation. It is this that made the famous novelist Chinue Achabe write in his thought provoking book, The Trouble with Nigeria that, “corruption in Nigeria has passed the alarming and entered the fatal stage; and Nigeria will die if we keep pretending that she is slightly indisposed.

The Transparency International Annual Corruption perception Index (TIACPI) consistently rated Nigeria as one of the most corrupt, at one time or the other the most corrupt nation in the world (TIACPI 2001/2002). The acknowledgement of corruption constitutionally and judicially as one of the foremost challenges to governance and development in Nigeria formed the making of the “Anti-Corruption Campaign” as a fundamental policy of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo government, that was established by the 1999 constitution (Ribadu 2006:1).

The country cannot but therefore respond to both domestic and international pressures to confront corruption with all possible strategies available. Although the need to provide the necessary mechanism for controlling corruption has been recognized for a very long time, an ordinance to establish a criminal code which made provisions against corruption by public officers was first enacted for part of Lagos and the southern province in June 1916 (Nwakama 1986:185). The need for anti-corruption machinery was also acknowledge fifty nine years ago, February 26. 1952 to be specific by the motion moved in the Northern House of Chiefs by the Emir of Gwandu;

The house agreeing that bribery and corruption are widely prevalent in all walks of life, recommends that Native Authorities should make efforts to trace and

punish offenders with strict impartiality and to educate public opinion against bribery and corruption (Adebayo 2004:19).

Ironically, the institutional mechanism offered by constitution for fight against corrupt practices in the country is itself not immured from the plague. Indeed, the creation of extra-legislative institutions saddled with the tasks of fighting corruption is itself an indictment of constitutional prescription and the practical realities in an emerging democracy proceeded by long years of military rule marked by massive corruption and rule with impunity. The Nigeria’s 1999 amended constitution contain several provisions geared towards good governance and opposed to corruption. Hence, section 15 subsections 5- Political Objectives of the Nigeria amended 1999 constitution say that “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”. Similarly, the economic resources of the nation are expected to be exploited to promote the common good and to decentralize wealth and the means of production in the interest of the majority. These are supported by the enactment and judicial validation of accountability and transparency augmented anti-corruption legislations, and the articulation and vigorous pursuit of the anti-corruption policies by the successive administration of May 29, 1999 to date. However, the nascent constitutional democratic government grapples with the problems of governance and how to effectively combat and prevent corruption, which has been ingrained in the Nigerian value system and psyche as the “Nigerian factor” (Shehu 2006:105).

.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The negative perception of Nigeria persists in spite of the several emplaced anti-corruption and integrity promotion policies and strategies by successive administrations. Before the advent of the present democratic dispensation in May 1999, preceding regimes had successively instituted instruments, measures and policies designed to prevent and combat corruption in the country, notably, Criminal Code, Penal Code (applicable in the North), Corrupt Practices Decree 1975 (which established the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau), President Shehu Shagari’s Ethical Revolution, War Against Indiscipline of the Buhari/Idiagbon Administration, Mass Mobilization for Social Justice Self Reliance and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) of the Babangida Administration, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Cap 56 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990), Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunal Act Cap 387 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990) as amended in 1991, Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree 1996 etc (Ahmed 2007:1). These institutions have functioned less than adequately and result is institutionalized corruption. The

above scenario virtually turned Nigeria into a pariah nation. In foreign countries Nigerians were treated with suspicion and embarrassment and foreigners were wary of making Nigerian their investment destination (Iorhemen 2008:3). It has been observed that, “the more government devise complex and ambitious ways of combating corruption and plans for the socio-economic and political development of this country, the more their implementation is frustrated by evolution of ever more effective and sophisticated method of corruption so that in the end the only development we see is the development of corruption” (Smith 1976) in Nkom (1976:227). Amujiri (2002:68) observed that, public accountability is never a priority in Nigeria. In spite of the brave letters of the constitution and the expensive noise of the anti-corruption crusade….

The return of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999 more than ever before aroused the citizen’s quest to combating corruption and installing accountability and transparency. Pursuant to this, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) were established vide enabling acts. This is in addition to existing institutions such as the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its tribunal. Why is it that, in spite of the establishment of these impressive arrays of institutional mechanisms aimed at combating corruption in the Nigerian Public Service, the vice still rife? The rational for this study hinges on the fact that, it will contribute to strengthening these institutional mechanisms for fighting corruption thereby, reducing the malaise in the Nigerian Public Service.

1.2 Research questions

 The questions that arose include:

i.       Dose the established institutional mechanisms (EFCC and ICPC) for combating corruption in Nigeria has any effect on the level of corruption in the Nigerian ?

ii.       How effective are these institutional mechanisms (EFCC and ICPC) established in assets recovery and return in Nigeria?

iii.      What are the problems associated with the effective functioning of EFCC and ICPC?

iv.     What can be done in making these institutional mechanisms more effective?

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to critically assess the institutional mechanisms for combating corruption in the Nigerian .

Specifically the study will:

1.                  To find out the extent to which the anti-corruption mechanisms(EFCC and ICPC) has gone in the fight against corruption in the Nigerian .

2.                  Ascertain the efficacy or other wise of these institutional mechanisms(EFCC and ICPC)  in assets recovery and return  in the Nigerian .

3.                  To identify the problems militating against the effective performance of institutional mechanisms for combating corruption in the Nigerian .

4.                  To make recommendation that will strengthened these institutional mechanisms for combating corruption thereby, reducing the malaise in the Nigerian .

1.4       Significance of the Study

The importance of this study is in two ways. In its theoretical perspective, this research work would add to the existing literature on the issue of corruption, it would contribute immensely to academic field of studies especially in the area of human management. In addition, this work will be of benefit to future scholars who would like to carry out research similar to or related to this topic.

On the empirical perspective, policy maker will equally find the study useful as it will enable them identifies present policy lapses with a view to fine turning them. For the practitioners in these institutions and other administrators, the finding of the study will provide them with more insight on the challenges of these mechanisms with a view to re-adjusting their skills and methods of operation. The acquisitive citizenry desirous of fighting corruption and seeing transparency and accountability entrenched in the Nigerian public service will equally find this interesting as it will provide them with a view to making contribution, because the fight against it is a fight for all.

1.5       Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study is concerned on an assessment of the role of EFCC and ICPC for assets recovery and return  in Nigerian Public Service. The researcher is aware of the fact that the Nigerian Public Service has similar feature in the Benue State Civil Service as such the research is restricted to the Benue State Civil Service with the time frame of 1999 to 2015. The period of democratic rule in Nigeria, and almost all the institutions to be assessed were established within this period.

The researcher met the heads of the anti-corruption agencies in Benue State, but they declined any form of interview, insisting that they needed clearance from their headquarters before they could grant any interview or discuss their work. Throughout the duration of the research, that approval never came.

Another limiting factor of the study is on the basis of sourcing materials and information since materials in the public service are not accessible because of the confidentiality of the information and fear of being quoted.

Irrespective of the limitation encountered, the researcher make vigorous effort to assemble reasonable materials and information through some spirited public servants who claimed to be contributing their quota in the fight against corruption, because they were told about the objective of the research and what it stand to achieve.


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