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CORRUPTION AND RULE OF LAW : AN ASSESSMENT OF ANTI-CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA

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CORRUPTION AND RULE OF LAW : AN ASSESSMENT OF ANTI-CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA

 

                                                                   ABSTRACT

“The constitution does not contemplate a situation where any person, natural or artificial, can claim any exception before the law. It has to be a situation of anarchy and wholesale illegality in which an exception or a preferential treatment is dispensed in favour of anyone, including the so-called high-profile corruption cases which the Chief Justice alluded to. Our laws have no provisions for “high- profile” criminals because a criminal is a criminal, irrespective what we think of him. It is the failure of the system that has created that monster category of law-breakers in Nigeria.”

 

Nigeria is a state that is founded on the philosophy of the Rule of Law wherein all persons and institutions are subject to the same legal treatment. This idea of the rule of law has been expressed in many ways. The starting point for its discussion is the Constitution, which has boldly set out the juristic parameters of the concept as it applies to the Nigerian State whose nature, philosophy and other characteristics are equally embedded in the Constitution.

 

The claim by the CJN, Aloma Muktar, last week, that the AGF office is undermining this time-honoured doctrine by its failure to carry out prosecutorial duties that the office is constitutionally obliged to perform is a huge one, no doubt. If criminals are roaming our streets in open defiance of the legal order, it is because someone has failed in his duties. According to the learned CJN, “…the court cannot on its own prosecute criminal cases; there must be the willingness of all prosecuting agencies to prosecute cases brought before our courts, especially high-profile cases of corruption and all others.”

Corruption in Nigeria undermines democratic institutions, retards economic development and contributes to government instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law, and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existence is the soliciting of bribes.

The issue of corruption has led to loss of confidence in Nigeria by its citizens at home and abroad due to the activities of fraudsters, corrupt public officials and mis-governance by our leaders. On the international scene, Nigeria has been blacklisted as a slate in which integrity and transparency are alien and where no transactions occur without greasing palms. Others are over concentration of resource at the centre and a culture of unregulated informal economy, inefficient contract awards, inadequate enforcement of existing law, absence of the rule of law and a culture of preferential treatment in the conduct of government business. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Corruption Commission (EFCC) were established by the present administration to combat corruption at various levels. It is lamentable to observe that in spite of these strategies in place, little or no success has been achieved in that direction. The main objectives of the study are to identify the causes of corruption and their effects on Nigerian society; to analyse the role of the various Strategic Agencies on Anti-corruption and the impact of their existence. The method adopted for the study is the historical and observational method. Related literatures on corruption and government strategies are also utilized for the study. The findings of the study are that the existing Anti-Corruption Agencies are trying their best to curb corruption in Nigeria but that greediness and political instability are some of the primary causes of corruption. Government’s lack of will to indict some past and present public office holders, inadequate and ineffective legislation on corruption are responsible for the high level of corruption in Nigeria today It is recommended that in fighting corruption, Nigeria requires good and virtuous leaders who are honest with integrity, discipline and trustworthy, creation of employment, upgrading of Nigeria police amongst others.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STYUDY

“The constitution does not contemplate a situation where any person, natural or artificial, can claim any exception before the law. It has to be a situation of anarchy and wholesale illegality in which an exception or a preferential treatment is dispensed in favour of anyone, including the so-called high-profile corruption cases which the Chief Justice alluded to. Our laws have no provisions for “high- profile” criminals because a criminal is a criminal, irrespective what we think of him. It is the failure of the system that has created that monster category of law-breakers in Nigeria.”

 

Nigeria is a state that is founded on the philosophy of the Rule of Law wherein all persons and institutions are subject to the same legal treatment. This idea of the rule of law has been expressed in many ways. The starting point for its discussion is the Constitution, which has boldly set out the juristic parameters of the concept as it applies to the Nigerian State whose nature, philosophy and other characteristics are equally embedded in the Constitution.

 

The claim by the CJN, Aloma Muktar, last week, that the AGF office is undermining this time-honoured doctrine by its failure to carry out prosecutorial duties that the office is constitutionally obliged to perform is a huge one, no doubt. If criminals are roaming our streets in open defiance of the legal order, it is because someone has failed in his duties. According to the learned CJN, “…the court cannot on its own prosecute criminal cases; there must be the willingness of all prosecuting agencies to prosecute cases brought before our courts, especially high-profile cases of corruption and all others.”

 

Specifically, Section 1 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “this constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

 

What this provision of the constitution seeks to establish is that the constitution does not contemplate a situation where any person, natural or artificial, can claim any exception before the law. It has to be a situation of anarchy and wholesale illegality in which an exception or a preferential treatment is dispensed in favour of anyone, including the so-called high-profile corruption cases which the Chief Justice alluded to. Our laws have no provisions for “high- profile” criminals because a criminal is a criminal, irrespective what we think of him. It is the failure of the system that has created that monster category of law-breakers in Nigeria.

 

Applied in the context that the CJN used the phrase, namely, “high-profile corruption cases,” we can guess that she meant cases involving criminals who enjoy high social status in Nigeria, such as those of governors, ministers and other members of the elite class. The question is: does the Nigerian constitution make exceptions for the so-called high-profile corruption cases? The simple answer is no, because all accused persons are equal before the law for reasons of prosecution and other fair legal processes. Letting criminals off the hook simply because they are considered high-profile is a direct invitation to anarchy and manifest impunity. More importantly, it gives the false impression that crime pays.

 

The CJN was very specific in her allegation of the existence of inequality in the dispensation of criminal justice in the country and she listed the office of the AGF as the principal culprit in this charge. That is really shameful. For the avoidance of doubt, I must point out that the office of the Attorney-General is the only ministerial position specifically listed in the constitution and it is, by its establishment, composed of two important functions, i.e., by virtue of Section 150 of the Constitution, he is both (a) the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and (b) a Minister in the Government of the Federation.

 

As the chief law officer of the nation, he is historically considered as the “keeper of the conscience of the nation” under which it is his solemn duty to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour on behalf of not the President or any authorities for that matter, but that of the nation as a whole. In this capacity, the Attorney-General is not subject to the control of the President because he is acknowledged as the leading officer in the Temple of Justice. That is why he can lawfully initiate proceedings against anyone, including the President in certain situations.

 

But as a minister, he is generally subject to the control of the President like any other appointee, wherein he could be contaminated by the forces of politics and, by implication,in his professional judgment. That is why some people have been arguing for the separation of the office of the Attorney-General as the law officer of the federation from that of the Minister of Justice, which is a mere political appointment.

 

The constitution understands that this is a very delicate office which requires that the occupants are not likely to betray the high duties tied to it and that is why it is the only ministerial position with specific qualifications and length of experience tied to it. In other words, not just anybody can be made an Attorney-General. A would-be appointee must first be a lawyer and must be so qualified for a minimum period of 10 years. He is also the only minister whose duties have been set out under the constitution, in Section 174.

 

Why then did we have the shameful experience of AGFs failing to prosecute high-profile cases of corruption involving politicians and other members of the nation’s anarchic elite? Is it that we have appointed the wrong persons into that high constitutional office? It must be conceded that this charge, as weighty as it is, relates more to the riotous Obasanjo era wherein court cases were indecently manipulatedand court orders routinely flouted, especially if those involved were connected to the ruling party. Since Yar’Adua’s inauguration in 2007, there have been appreciable but slow efforts to return the nation to the path of legality. The Jonathan administration has happily kept faith with that positive philosophy, so far. Nigeria is condemned to anarchy if high-profile criminals expectedly get only slaps on their wrists in lieu of just and appropriate punishments, while petty offenders are given the cruelest and disproportionate punishments.

1.2 PROBLEM OF THE STUDY

It is argued that the following conditions are favorable for corruption:

 

Information deficits

Lacking freedom of information legislation. For example: The Indian Right to Information Act 2005 is perceived to have “already engendered mass movements in the country that is bringing the lethargic, often corrupt bureaucracy to its knees and changing power equations completely.”[19]

Lack of investigative reporting in the local media.

Contempt for or negligence of exercising freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Weak accounting practices, including lack of timely financial management.

Lack of measurement of corruption. For example, using regular surveys of households and businesses in order to quantify the degree of perception of corruption in different parts of a nation or in different government institutions may increase awareness of corruption and create pressure to combat it. This will also enable an evaluation of the officials who are fighting corruption and the methods used. Lack of benchmarking, that is continual detailed evaluation of procedures and comparison to others who do similar things, in the same government or others, in particular comparison to those who do the best work. The Peruvian organization Ciudadanos al Dia has started to measure and compare transparency, costs, and efficiency in different government departments in Peru. It annually awards the best practices which has received widespread media attention. This has created competition among government agencies in order to improve.[21]

Opportunities and incentives

Individual officials routinely handle cash, instead of handling payments by giro or on a separate cash desk – illegitimate withdrawals from supervised bank accounts are much more difficult to conceal. Long-time work in the same position may create relationships inside and outside the government which encourage and help conceal corruption and favoritism. Rotating government officials to different positions and geographic areas may help prevent this; for instance certain high rank officials in French government services (e.g. treasurer-paymasters general) must rotate every few years.

Costly political campaigns, with expenses exceeding normal sources of political funding, especially when funded with taxpayer money.

A single group or family controlling most of the key government offices. Lack of laws forbidding and limiting number of members of the same family to be in office .

Less interaction with officials reduces the opportunities for corruption. For example, using the Internet for sending in required information, like applications and tax forms, and then processing this with automated computer systems. This may also speed up the processing and reduce unintentional human errors. See e-Government.

A windfall from exporting abundant natural resources may encourage corruption.[22] (See Resource curse)

War and other forms of conflict correlate with a breakdown of public security.

Social conditions

Self-interested closed cliques and “old boy networks”.

Family-, and clan-centered social structure, with a tradition of nepotism/favouritism being acceptable.

A gift economy, such as the Soviet blat system, emerges in a Communist centrally planned economy.

Lacking literacy and education among the population.

Frequent discrimination and bullying among the population.

Tribal solidarity, giving benefits to certain ethnic groups. In India for example, the political system, it has become common that the leadership of national and regional parties are passed from generation to generation[23][24]

creating a system in which a family holds the center of power. Some examples are most of the Dravidian parties of south India and also the Congress party, which is one of the two major political parties in India.

Lack of strong laws which forbid members of the same family to contest elections and be in office as in India where local elections are often contested between members of the same powerful family by standing in opposite parties so that whoever is elected that particular family is at tremendous benefit. Extensive and diverse public spending is, in itself, inherently at risk of cronyism, kickbacks, and embezzlement. Complicated regulations and arbitrary, unsupervised official conduct exacerbate the problem. This is one argument for privatization and deregulation. Opponents of privatization see the argument as ideological. The argument that corruption necessarily follows from the opportunity is weakened by the existence of countries with low to non-existent corruption but large public sectors, like the Nordic countries.[25] However, these countries score high on the Ease of Doing Business Index, due to good and often simple regulations, and have rule of law firmly established. Therefore, due to their lack of corruption in the first place, they can run large public sectors without inducing political corruption. Recent evidence that takes both the size of expenditures and regulatory complexity into account has found that high-income democracies with more expansive state sectors do indeed have higher levels of corruption.[3]

 

Like other governmental economic activities, also privatization, such as in the sale of government-owned property, is particularly at the risk of cronyism. Privatizations in Russia, Latin America, and East Germany were accompanied by large scale corruption during the sale of the state owned companies. Those with political connections unfairly gained large wealth, which has discredited privatization in these regions. While media have reported widely the grand corruption that accompanied the sales, studies have argued that in addition to increased operating efficiency, daily petty corruption is, or would be, larger without privatization, and that corruption is more prevalent in non-privatized sectors. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that extralegal and unofficial activities are more prevalent in countries that privatized less.[26]

 

There is the counterpoint, however, that industries with an oligarchy of companies can be quite corrupt, with collusive price-fixing, pressuring dependent businesses, etc., and only by having a portion of the market owned by someone other than that oligarchy, i.e. public sector, can keep them in line. If the public sector company is making money and selling their product for half of the price of the private sector companies, the private sector companies won’t be able to simultaneously gouge to that degree and keep their customers: the competition keeps them in line. Private sector corruption can increase the poverty and helplessness of the population, so it can affect government corruption, in the long-term.[citation needed]

 

In the European Union, the principle of subsidiarity is applied: a government service should be provided by the lowest, most local authority that can competently provide it. An effect is that distribution of funds into multiple instances discourages embezzlement, because even small sums missing will be noticed. In contrast, in a centralized authority, even minute proportions of public funds can be large sums of money.

Governmental corruption

 

If the highest echelons of the governments also take advantage from corruption or embezzlement from the state’s treasury, it is sometimes referred with the neologism kleptocracy. Members of the government can take advantage of the natural resources (e.g., diamonds and oil in a few prominent cases) or state-owned productive industries. A number of corrupt governments have enriched themselves via foreign aid, which is often spent on showy buildings and armaments.

 

A corrupt dictatorship typically results in many years of general hardship and suffering for the vast majority of citizens as civil society and the rule of law disintegrate. In addition, corrupt dictators routinely ignore economic and social problems in their quest to amass ever more wealth and power.

 

The classic case of a corrupt, exploitive dictator often given is the regime of Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which he renamed Zaire) from 1965 to 1997. It is said that usage of the term kleptocracy gained popularity largely in response to a need to accurately describe Mobutu’s regime. Another classic case is Nigeria, especially under the rule of General Sani Abacha who was de facto president of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998. He is reputed to have stolen some US$3–4 billion. He and his relatives are often mentioned in Nigerian 419 letter scams claiming to offer vast fortunes for “help” in laundering his stolen “fortunes”, which in reality turn out not to exist.[27] More than $400 billion was stolen from the treasury by Nigeria’s leaders between 1960 and 1999.[28]

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

  1. This study focuses on the anticorruption crusade championed by the Nigeria government in curbing corruption in Nigeria.
  2. To rid Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures.
  3. To know the relationship between corruption and rule of law.
  4. To assess the effect of corruption on the application of the principle of rule of law in civil service and political issues in Nigeria.
  5. To address the various forms of corruption (involving the public sector, the private sector, the financing of political activities, etc.) whether they had a strictly domestic or also a transnational dimension.
  6. To monitor the implementation at national level of the requirements and principles provided in those texts, a monitoring mechanism – the Group of States Against Corruption (also known as GRECO) (French: Groupe d’Etats contre la corruption) was created.
  7. Networking with the other Anti-corruption agencies nationally, internationally and also individuals to combat corruption and other forms of injustices.

 

  1. To educate and enlighten the public on the dangers of corruption to the society.

 

  1. To embark on Anti-corruption enlightenment programs.

 

  1. To foster and nurture anti-corruption clubs in higher institutions of learning.

 

  1. To combat abuse of civil rights and liberty of individuals and organizations.

 

  1. Promotion of good Governance in Nigeria.

 

  1. To build a coalition of individuals and civil society organizations committed to fighting corruption in all ramifications.

 

  1. To advocate and support law reforms, bills and motions for promoting transparency and accountability in governance.

 

  1. To promote service delivery in public service through the elimination of corruption.

 

  1. Straightening, human, financial and material resource capacity in anti-corruption institutions, building capacity and motivating public service workers.

 

  1. To attend and organize international workshops and seminars targeted at the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law.

 

  1. To conduct periodic studies on ways, means and strategies that is in conflict with the law and seeks for constructive modalities for redressing such violations.

To build a Nigeria Society with zero tolerance for corruption, re-establish moral philosophy, transparency, accountability, integrity and respect for human dignity in other to attain good governance and social justice.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION

  1. Is this study focuses on the anticorruption crusade championed by the Nigeria government in curbing corruption in Nigeria?
  2. How can this study help rid Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures?
  3. Is there any relationship between corruption and rule of law?
  4. Can one assess the effect of corruption on the application of the principle of rule of law in civil service and political issues in Nigeria?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H0: This study  does not focus on the anticorruption crusade championed by the Nigeria government  in curbing corruption in Nigeria.

H1: This study focus on the anticorruption crusade championed by the Nigeria government  in curbing corruption in Nigeria.

H0: This study cannot help rid Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures.

H1: This study can help rid Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures.

H0: There is no significant  relationship between corruption and rule of law.

H1: There is a significant  relationship between corruption and rule of law.

H0: One cannot assess the effect of  corruption on the application of the principle of  rule of law in civil service and political issues in Nigeria.

H1: One can assess the effect of  corruption on the application of the principle of  rule of law in civil service and political issues in Nigeria.

1.6  SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.

  1. A study of this nature will primarily create awareness to the school management on the effect of corruption and mismanagement on public expenditure in Nigeria.

 

  1. To provide basic information on the effect of corruption and mismanagement and the role of EFCC in combating it.

 

  1. To prevent and give guidelines to the corrective measures to be carried out.

 

  1. To arouse the workers and staffs towards efficient devotion of themselves to their mission.

 

  1. The study will also create awareness to the government on the evils of corruption and mismanagement and to look for necessary ways of combating the crime effectively.

 

  1. It also helps to assist management to improve and adopt strategies to reduce corruption and mismanagements in various institutions.

 

  1. The result of corruption and mismanagement is dangerous, deadly and cannot be over-emphasized.

 

  1. A study of this nature aim at erasing this “cancer” (Corruption and mismanagement) that runs in our veins, and call us order for the betterment of the mankind and for the upliftment of the -country in general.

 

  1. Teenagers and generations unborn will be very free from this contagious disease (B&C), if the government and the entire populace will mount an implementable strategies of effectively combating the crime.

 

  1. The workers would also find this work very beneficial, as they consult it whenever they need such related information.

 

  • SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study is centered on  corruption and rule of law : an assessment of anti-corruption in Nigeria using ICPC as a case study.

.1.8   LIMITATION OF STUDY

Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project.  Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:

  1. TIME: This was a major constraint on the researcher during the period of the work. Considering the limited time given for this study, there was not much time to give this research the needed attention.
  2. FINANCE: Owing to the financial difficulty prevalent in the country and it’s resultant prices of commodities, transportation fares, research materials etc. The researcher did not find it easy meeting all his financial obligations.

iii.     INFORMATION CONSTRAINTS: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencies. The staff of EFCC  find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy.

 

Although these problems placed limitations on the study,  but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.

 

1.9  DEFINITION OF TERMS

Corruption is a social problem that has interested many scholars. Ruzindana (1999) asserts that corruption in Africa is a problem of routine deviation from established standards and norms by public officials and parties with whom they interact. He also identifisd the types of corruption in Africa as bribery, private gain,  and other benefits to non-existent workers and pensioners (called ghost workers).

Crime;                Is simply defined as offence for which there is severe punishment by law.

 

B & C;                Corruption and mismanagement

 

WAIC                 War Against Indiscipline & Corr

Rule of Law: The saying, “Every person is subject to the law, irrespective of rank or status in society, and one law exists for the same classes and types of people under the same circumstances”, does not fit the function of the law in states such as ours. The concept of the rule of law has to be rigorously examined for there are all kinds of law; there are just and unjust laws; bad and good laws. We cannot reach a conclusion that a law is just or unjust, good or bad without entering the realms of politics and philosophy. This then compels an analysis of the social forces and processes that produce or make laws.

 

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