The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a severe problem. The government publicly acknowledged corruption as a problem.
Civil servants often demanded bribes to provide public services. A poorly financed and trained law enforcement system and weak administrative controls compounded corruption. Other underlying causes included poverty; low salaries; the politicization of the public service; the influence of traditional kinship, ethnic, and family ties on decision making; a culture of impunity; and a lack of civic education.
In June the government revealed a case of massive fraud involving 1.8 billion CFA ($3.6 million) from the National Treasury that resulted in the dismissal of several senior officials of the Ministry of Finance. In connection with this case, on August 9, authorities detained Alhassane Alkali, the former transition president’s deputy cabinet director; Ibrahim Garba, former secretary general of the Ministry of Finance; Amadou Ganda Hamidou, budget director; Bassirou Adamou, financial controller; Abdoullahi Beidou, director general of the Treasury; Mahamane Lawan Sabo Mazadou, treasury accounting agent; Sidi Aissa Diallo, head of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries fund at the Ministry of Finance; and Abdou Mounkaila and Oumarou Akibi, employees of Zakou Djibo, a businessman and member of parliament who received payment the above amount. All but Djibo were transferred to prison to await trial. Djibo was charged with several fraud and corruption counts, but has immunity from prosecution while he is a member of the National Assembly. On December 23, the government requested the lifting of his immunity, along with seven other members of parliament suspected of involvement in separate corruption cases.
In April the Court of Appeals granted provisional release to Amadou Dioffo, director general of Sonidep (fuel importation and distribution company), who was detained in November 2010 for the mismanagement of a government special account with a balance of 3.6 billion CFA ($7.2 million). No date had been determined for his trial.
No trial dates were set for the following individuals, all of whom were detained for corruption in 2010 and granted provisional release during the year: Hadia Toulaye Tandja, the son of former president Tandja; manager of Multimedia Communications Ibrahim Hamidou; former minister of mines Mohamed Abdoulahi; and former secretary general of the Ministry of Mines Massalabi Oumarou.
There also were no developments in the 2010 embezzlement case of Seini Oumarou, party leader of the National Movement for a Development Society; Sala Habi, former minister of commerce; and two other officials of the Ministry of Commerce.
During the year the government took steps to curb corruption.
For example, on July 26, the government created the High Authority to Combat Corruption and Associated Crimes, under the oversight of the President’s Office. Members of the High Authority, which is charged with monitoring the government’s anticorruption programs, included government, private sector, and civil society representatives.
On August 2, the National Assembly passed a bill amending the constitution to require transparency, equal access and treatment, and public-private partnership mechanisms in bidding for and implementing government contracts, in compliance with West African Economic and Monetary Union guidelines.
On August 13, the government launched an anticorruption hotline as part of the Ministry of Justice’s plan for the fight against corruption and influence peddling.
The State Inspectorate and the courts are responsible for combating government corruption. In April 2010 the government created the State Audit Court to regulate public finances and provide for transparency in the management of public funds. The court oversees the management of all government agencies and development projects funded by external resources, as well as the implementation of the budget. It also oversees the accounts of political parties and government officials’ statements of personal assets submitted to the Constitutional Court. If requested by the National Assembly, the State Audit Court may conduct investigations regarding the implementation of public revenues and expenses. The court also has authority to sanction any fraud in the management of public resources.
The constitution requires the president of the republic, presidents of other government institutions, and cabinet members to submit written statements of their personal property and other assets to the Constitutional Court upon assuming office, and this occurred in practice. These statements are to be updated annually and at the end of an individual’s tenure. Initial statements and updates are published in the National Register and the press. Copies of the statements are forwarded to the government’s fiscal services. Any discrepancies between the initial and the updated statements must be explained. The Constitutional Court has authority to assess discrepancies. The designated officials are not allowed to purchase or rent, by themselves or through other parties, any government-owned property, or to bid for public or private government contracts.
The law provides for access to public information and administrative documents, and this occurred in practice; many documents could also be obtained from individual ministries and the National Archives.