From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says that illicit financial flows are the worst form of corruption in Nigeria and not looting by political officeholders.
The Chairman of ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, who made the remarks at a media roundtable on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy in Lagos, said looted funds by politicians amount to only 30 per cent of the losses. This follows the publication of the National Corruption Index (NCI).
‘I am aware that the general perception is that looting by politically exposed persons is the most egregious, but I have news for you, it is not. It represents less than 30% of the loses of capital in the developing countries, including Nigeria. A lot of money is lost through illicit financial flows,’ Prof Owasanoye said.
He went on to say the Commission is looking at Illicit Financial flows, because ‘no government, especially in the developing countries, will ever be able to fulfill its programmes or not depend on loans for development assistants unless it is able to keep within its economy revenue that is generated therein.’
He went on to say that the NCI report was not to insinuate that judges collect bribes, blaming the media for what he called ‘regrettable reports.’ He said: ‘The survey that we published has been regrettably reported by some sections of the media as suggesting that judges collected bribes. Nothing can be farther from the truth. We interviewed judges, we interviewed lawyers and many responded and said, “we were offered”.’
The justice sector, he said, ‘is not only judges. There are registrars, there are court clerks. We aggregated everything, but many of the (media) reports zeroed in on the judges. Some even suggested that the judges collected, we never said so.’
The NCI report, he advised, should be well interrogated, saying: ‘It is the politicians who offered the bribes through different means, either through their lawyers, or sometimes directly to the judges, but the judges didn’t tell us that they collected the bribes.
‘The figure spiked over the three years period (2018-2020) because of the high stake area of focus, which is the election petition, where politicians desperate for power are ready to offer anything in order to take power.”
On ICPC’s prevention mandate, the Chairman said, ‘we have done system study and reviews. Last year, we focused a lot on budget, with regard to personnel and capital. This year, we have done the same thing, but in addition, we look intensely at Open Treasury Portal. Some of the things, which we have found that are consequently being further interrogated and investigated include disbursements into the accounts of civil servants that we felt require explanations and the quantum of what we saw.
‘Related to that is the deployment of Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard, which is a peer rating mechanism. It helps to administer on the agencies of government and to predict somewhat whether an MDA is an accident waiting to happen as far as corruption is concern.’