Home Exclusive U.S Report Knocks Buhari’s Govt, Accuses it of Massive Corruption, Right Abuses

U.S Report Knocks Buhari’s Govt, Accuses it of Massive Corruption, Right Abuses

by Our Reporter
espite repeated avowals of his commitment to a fight against corruption,the United States Department of State has said there is a climate of
impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows
officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from
punishment. The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and
Labour, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, said
Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its
public service.

The US Congress mandates the executive to produce a report on the state of
human rights worldwide every year. For Nigeria, the findings in the 2018
Human Rights Report, released Thursday, were largely similar to those of
the previous year’s report, indicating lack of real progress in the
government’s anti-corruption war.

A copy of the report obtained by THISDAY said, “Although the law provides
criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government
did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in
corrupt practices with impunity.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of
government and the security services. There were numerous reports of
government corruption during the year.”

The report stated that the country’s two key anti-corruption agencies, the
Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)
and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had broad powers
to prosecute corruption, but rarely applied such powers to conscientiously
and logically prosecute corruption cases.

It stated, “The EFCC writ extends only to financial and economic crimes.
The ICPC secured 14 convictions during the year. In 2016 the EFCC had 66
corruption cases pending in court, had secured 13 convictions during the
year, and had 598 open investigations.
“Although ICPC and EFCC anti-corruption efforts remained largely focused
on low and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential
election, both organisations started investigations into and brought
indictments against various active and former high-level government
officials. Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both
ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the
widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.

“EFCC arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the
year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and
leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC. In
October the EFCC arrested and indicted former governor of Ekiti State Ayo
Fayose on 11 counts, including conspiracy and money laundering amounting
to 2.2 billion naira ($6 million). After a Federal High Court ruling,
Fayose was out on 50 million naira ($137,500) bail.”

On financial disclosure, the report noted the constitutional requirement
under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCBTA) for public
officials, including the president, vice president, governors, deputy
governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at both federal and state
levels), to declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)
before assuming and after leaving office. The constitution calls for the
CCB to “make declarations available for inspection by any citizen of the
country on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may
prescribe,” said the report. “The law does not address the publication of
asset information. Violators risk prosecution, but cases rarely reached
Perhaps, more chilling was the finding that arbitrary deprivation of life
and unlawful killings were prevalent in Nigeria in 2018. The report cited
several examples.

It said, “There were several reports the government or its agents
committed arbitrary and unlawful killings. The national police, army, and
other security services used lethal and excessive force to disperse
protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects and committed other
extrajudicial killings.
“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security
force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or
for the deaths of persons in custody.
“State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths
generally did not make their findings public.
“In August 2017 the acting president convened a civilian-led presidential
investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human
rights obligations and rules of engagement, and the panel submitted its
findings in February. As of November no portions of the report had been
made public.

“As of September there were no reports of the federal government further
investigating or holding individuals accountable for the 2015 killing and
subsequent mass burial of members of the Shia group, Islamic Movement of
Nigeria (IMN), and other civilians by Nigerian Army (NA) forces in Zaria,
Kaduna State. “
The report noted the 2016 nonbinding report of the Kaduna State
government’s judicial commission, which found that the Nigerian Army (NA)
used “excessive and disproportionate” force during the 2015 altercations
in which 348 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and one
soldier died.

It said, “The commission recommended the federal government conduct an
independent investigation and prosecute anyone found to have acted
unlawfully. It also called for the proscription of the IMN and the
monitoring of its members and their activities.
“In 2016 the government of Kaduna State published a white paper that
included acceptance of the commission’s recommendation to investigate and
prosecute allegations of excessive and disproportionate use of force by
the NA.

“As of September, however, there was no indication that authorities had
held any members of the NA accountable for the events in Zaria. It also
accepted the recommendation to hold IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky
responsible for all illegal acts committed by IMN members during the
altercations and in the preceding 30 years. In 2016 a federal court
declared the continued detention without charge of Zakzaky and his wife
illegal and unconstitutional.

“The court ordered their release by January 2017. The federal government
did not comply with this order, and Zakzaky, his spouse, and other IMN
members remained in detention. In April the Kaduna State government
charged Zakzaky in state court with multiple felonies stemming from the
death of the soldier at Zaria. The charges include culpable homicide,
which can carry the death penalty. As of December the case was pending. In
July a Kaduna High Court dismissed charges of aiding and abetting culpable
homicide against more than 80 IMN members. As of September the Kaduna
State government had appealed the ruling. Approximately 100 additional IMN
members remained in detention.

“In October security forces killed 45 IMN members that were participating
in processions and protests, according to Amnesty International (AI).”
The report recalled the January 2017 bombing of an informal internally
displaced persons (IDPs) settlement in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian
Air Force, which resulted in the killing and injuring of more than 100
civilians and aid workers.

It said, “The government and military leaders publicly assumed
responsibility for the strike and launched an investigation. The air force
conducted its own internal investigation, but as of December the
government had not made public its findings. No air force or army
personnel were known to have been held accountable for their roles in the
event. There were reports of arbitrary and unlawful killings related to
internal conflicts in the North-east and other areas.”

The report identified the following human rights issues in Nigeria:
unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors;
forced disappearances by both government and non-state actors; torture by
both government and non-state actors; and prolonged arbitrary detention in
life-threatening conditions, particularly, in government detention
facilities. Others are harsh and life threatening prison conditions,
including civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on
flimsy or no evidence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal
libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and
freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and refoulement of refugees.

The report also identified as human rights abuse corruption; progress to
formally separate child soldiers previously associated with the Civilian
Joint Task Force (CJTF); lack of accountability concerning violence
against women, including female genital mutilation/cutting, in part due to
government inaction/negligence; trafficking in persons, including sexual
exploitation and abuse by security officials; crimes involving violence
targeting LGBTI persons and the criminalisation of status and same-sex
sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced
and bonded labour.

The report, however, noted that the government took steps to investigate
alleged abuses but took fewer steps to prosecute officials who committed
violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

“Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. The government
did not adequately investigate or prosecute most of the major outstanding
allegations of human rights violations by the security forces or the
majority of cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of
power,” the report added.


You may also like