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CISLAC, TI-DSP, others intensify efforts against corruption, insecurity.

CISLAC, TI-DSP, others intensify efforts against corruption, insecurity.

 

CISLAC/TI-Nigeria, Transparency International- Defence and Security Project (TI-DSP), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands and Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) have intensified the fight against corruption and insecurity in the country.

 

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The groups in collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria), recently convened a one-day workshop on “Capacity Building for Relevant Oversight Agencies on Anti-Corruption Reforms in Nigeria’s Defence and Security Sector,” in Nasarawa state.

 

The workshop was aimed to facilitate a national discourse on defence and security oversight, equipping stakeholders with the tools to understand, interrogate, and conduct effective oversight in the Defence and Security sector to curb corruption in the area.

 

The workshop also sought to elicit commitment from relevant institutions to contribute to the reform of the Defence and Security sector.

It featured technical sessions with presentations on the Linkages between Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria, Collaborative Approaches to Implementing and Monitoring Anti-corruption Reforms, and the Framework for anti-corruption Reforms in the Defence and Security Sector.

The stakeholders expressed their regrets in a communique at the end of the workshop, noting that the corrupt and weak Defence and Security sector jeopardises the peace, stability, and security of the nation.

The communique was signed by signed by Musa Ibrahim, on behalf of MDAs, Code of Conduct Bureau; Alicho Ogbu, for CSOs, Youth Initiatives against Violence and Human Rights Abuse and Abdullahi Ahmad for Legislators, House Committee on Army.

 

Addressing Corruption To Foster Transparency In Defence And Security Sector

 

The communique partly reads, “The country is facing escalating security threats, with existing challenges persisting and new threats emerging, intensifying the overall insecurity.

Addressing corruption is crucial to fostering transparency, responsiveness, and efficiency within Nigeria’s defence and security sector, given the grave impact corruption can have on the sector if left unchecked.

“The selection of relevant stakeholders and topics of discussion aimed to facilitate robust and productive deliberations, resulting in actionable recommendations to enable oversight institutions to diligently and effectively carry out their responsibilities, is a welcome development.

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Implementing and monitoring anti-corruption reforms in the defence and security sector requires collective responsibility and the support of all stakeholders.”

“Corruption is the primary enabler of insecurity in Nigeria and across Africa, affecting all levels of society. To achieve peace, corruption must be addressed.

Indexes show a direct correlation between a country’s ranking on the corruption perception index, its Human Development Index (HDI), and its vulnerability to conflict and insecurity.

The prevalence of corruption in developing countries, including Nigeria, has become deeply ingrained in the culture, often overshadowing the original human culture. External factors contribute to the perpetuation of corruption in Africa.”

The communique identified a number of challenges to the fight against corruption, including unclear and inconsistent stakeholder communication, turf protection, and the “nolle prosequi” law.

The listed factors allow the state to shield certain cases when it serves its interests, role confusion, and other barriers to policy implementation.
Obstacles To Anti-Corruption Work In Nigeria*

 

“Inherent challenges hinder collaboration among anti-corruption and oversight agencies in executing their work. Obstacles to anti-corruption work include a lack of clear and consistent communication among stakeholders, turf protection, the “nolle prosequi” law empowering the state to shield certain cases in its interest, role confusion, and other factors that impede policy implementation.

“Lack of collaboration and partnership among stakeholders hinders the effective implementation of anti-corruption policies, including the “Insistence on Conditionality of Fiscal Support to States.” The manner in which these policies are implemented exacerbates corruption.

Corruption has rendered oversight functions of defence and security-related committees at the National Assembly ineffective, leading to the characterization of these committees as “juicy committees.”

Further, the communique regretted that the procurement act grants the defence and security sector the authority to label projects as “special purpose” to circumvent oversight and procurement processes.

It lamented that the power of anti-corruption oversight agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), to investigate serving military personnel is severely limited.

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It also bemoaned, “The structure of the military, security, and defence agencies makes it challenging to investigate, monitor, and oversee them. The military structure often contradicts the spirit and nature of most anti-corruption laws.

“The challenge lies not in the absence of relevant laws and policies but in the near-impossibility of effectively overseeing and investigating the defence and security sector due to a lack of political will. While theoretical frameworks exist, practical implementation remains a significant obstacle. The absence of legal backing and whistleblower protection impedes the effectiveness of the Whistleblower Policy.”

The statement requested support for the development of modern technology’s integration into payment systems within the defence and security industry. To reduce the potential of ghost troops, the communique specifically advised that payments be connected to a biometric database that contains the fingerprints, personal information, and bank accounts of soldiers.

Updating Codes Of Conduct To Prohibit All Forms Of Corrupt Activity

It called for the update of codes of conduct to expressly forbid all acts of corruption and to specify potential penalties for officials who are discovered to have engaged in it.

In order to improve institutional integrity, it also pushed for the addition of clauses that prohibit fraud and corruption in the code. The statement also emphasised the importance of speaking out in favour of the creation of clear and comprehensive protections for whistleblowers.

The communique reads, “Update codes of conduct to explicitly prohibit all forms of corrupt activity and outline the possible sanctions for officers found guilty of corruption. This step will serve as a deterrent to potential transgressors and enhance the integrity and values of defence and security institutions.

 

“Furthermore, include provisions that prevent fraud and corruption to contribute to the enhancement of institutional integrity. Advocate for the establishment of specific and robust protections for whistleblowers. Ensure that mechanisms for anonymously reporting suspected wrongdoing function properly, contributing to the deterrence of human rights abuses by uniformed personnel and increased safeguards against corruption.”

 

“Emphasise the importance of improving governance as a means to reduce security vacuums in which extremist groups thrive. This includes countering the narrative put forth by non-state armed actors that they are the only alternative to a corrupt state structure.

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Encourage the mainstreaming of anti-corruption in security sector reform efforts. This involves identifying corruption as a strategic issue in security sector reform and clearly outlining in national military doctrines how corrupt behaviour can undermine operations.”

 

“This approach will send a strong signal to the public, contributing to the restoration of trust in the security apparatus and the state as a whole. Stress the necessity of transparency and accountability in the budgeting and procurement processes within the defence and security sector. Implement regular oversight functions by relevant institutions, such as the Ministry of Finance and Budget Office, Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly, civil society organisations, and the media. These measures will help avoid wasteful spending and ensure stable security in Nigeria.”

 

The communique further reads, “Embrace collaboration as an African spirit, recognising the importance of common humanity. Encourage stakeholders to pursue collaboration for the ultimate good of the people.

“Emphasise the need to focus on the people as facilitators of corruption or anti-corruption. Localise efforts to imbibe the spirit and tenets of anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability among every Nigerian.”

“Advocate for transparent personnel and financial management in the defence and security sector. Ensure that training, recruitment, and education of anti-corruption agents are inclusive and prioritise transparency.

“Promote the vigorous pursuit of prospects, including quick problem-solving, citizens’ pursuit for transparency, high levels of commitment to anti-corruption reforms, fostering a learning culture, acquiring knowledge, and curbing costs in the anti-corruption fight.

“Highlight the prospects of public interest litigation through collaboration and emphasize the sustainability of the anti-corruption crusade when it becomes localised and assimilated into the lives of the people. Advocate for participatory and democratic processes by building anti-corruption reforms on indigenous foundations.”

Participants at the workshop included representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Federal House of Representatives (House Committees on Army, Navy, Air Force, Defence and National Security and Intelligence), Ministry of Police Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Code of Conduct Bureau. The rest were from the Office of the Auditor General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Organisations, and media.

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