The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday rose in defense of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, condemning a Transparency International (TI) report, which claimed Nigeria has become more corrupt.
The yearly Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by TI released in Berlin ranked Nigeria 146th of the 180 countries. The country, however, was 144th in 2018, indicating a two-point plunge.
Buhari had made fighting corruption a focus of his All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, with anti-graft agencies such as the EFCC proclaiming daily feats in reining in the monster. He is also currently recognized by the African Union (AU) as the continent’s anti-corruption champion.
Nigeria’s score of 26 out of 100 points is below the global average of 43. In Africa, countries such as Niger (32), Sierra Leone (33), Cape Verde (60), Rwanda (53), Namibia (52), Senegal (45), South Africa (44) and Tunisia (43) met the average.
Benin (41) Ghana (41), Morocco (41), Burkina Faso (40), Lesotho (40), Ethiopia (37), Tanzania (37), Algeria and Egypt (35), Zambia (34), Botswana (61), Malawi (31), Djibouti (30) and Guinea (29) are better ranked than Nigeria.
Nigeria, however, ranks higher than Zimbabwe (24), Cameroon (25), CAR (25), Comoros (25), Madagascar (24), Eritrea (23), Chad (20), Equatorial Guinea (16), Guinea Bissau (18) and Somalia, the worst country in the world, with a score of 8 and ranking at 180th.
In a statement by its acting head of media, Tony Orilade, the EFCC said: “We insist that the rating is a far cry from the evident strides and achievements so far accomplished by the anti-graft agency in the fight against corruption, particularly under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The claim and inference by TI that Nigeria ranks the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa are totally unacceptable, as it is evidently not supported by any empirical data, especially when placed side-by-side with the remarkable achievements of the commission in the past years.
“Moreover, it is quite ironic that the report by TI posits that the index does not show real incidences of corruption, yet it claims that the report is a reliable indication of the perception of the Nigerian public and the international community about the state of corruption in the country.
“Suffice to state that in 2019 – the year under review by TI was particularly a remarkable one for the EFCC as the commission secured unprecedented record of 1,268 convictions, including that of a former state governor and a serving senator who was convicted for defrauding his state to the tune of N7.65billion. It was a landmark in the fight against corruption never achieved across the West African region, indeed, Africa at large. This is among several high-profile cases, which were successfully prosecuted during the year with many of them currently serving various jail terms.”
The EFCC said further: “Over the past years, billions of naira, millions of dollars and other foreign currencies were recovered from corrupt persons in the country, including securing the forfeiture of assets of their illegal and fraudulent activities. So far, the EFCC has evidently altered the narrative that there are some persons that are untouchables in the country.
“It is on record that three former state governors are currently serving different jail terms in prison for defrauding their states and stealing from the treasury to enrich themselves and their cronies.
“The EFCC has also spearheaded the Nigerian angle of prosecuting those involved in the Malabu oil fraud, and in partnership with the INTERPOL, was able to secure the repatriation of a former attorney general of the federation and minister of justice implicated in the fraud, who has been on the run.”
The anti-graft agency added: “Charges have already been filed against him at a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court and he has just been arraigned today. The commission has also not given up on its unrelenting efforts to ensure that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is made to answer for the various malfeasances perpetrated under her, in spite of the obvious reluctance of the United Kingdom to repatriate her to Nigeria.
“The onslaught against perpetrators of Internet fraud, infamously known as yahoo-yahoo, has also intensified with several of them now serving jail terms.