Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
Although the law provides criminal penalties for 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. The constitution provides immunity from civil and criminal prosecution for the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors while in office. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.
Corruption: The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) holds broad authorities to prosecute most forms of corruption. The EFCC writ extends only to financial and economic crimes. In October the ICPC had 82 prosecutions underway and 1,311 open investigations, and it had secured eight convictions between September 2015 and August. 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 anticorruption efforts remained largely focused on low- and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election both organizations started investigations into and brought indictments against various current 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 a case brought by the EFCC, in November a federal court convicted four firms allegedly used by a former aide of former president Goodluck Jonathan of laundering 1.67 billion naira ($5.3 million) in stolen funds. In its pursuit of corruption, the EFCC often did not observe all pertinent due process safeguards. In November the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice declared unlawful the arrest and detention in November 2015 of former national security advisor Sambo Dasuki. A court had released him on bail in a case brought by the EFCC for the alleged diversion of 13.6 billion naira ($43.2 million) intended to purchase military materiel during the Jonathan administration.
In October and November, the DSS arrested several federal judges, including some Supreme Court justices, for corruption. Prominent civil society representatives denounced the arrests, alleging that as a domestic intelligence agency the DSS lacked the necessary law enforcement powers. Subsequent to their arrests, the government indicted some of the judges for various crimes, ranging from immigration violations to money laundering.
Despite the announcement in 2015 of measures to tackle rampant police corruption and the 2013 propagation of a police code of conduct, as of November there were no reports of pending corruption cases against police officers.
Financial Disclosure: The Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCBTA) requires 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.” The law does not address the publication of asset information. Violators risk prosecution, but cases rarely reached conclusion.
In 2015 the CCB brought charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal–a court created by the CCBTA to try violations of that act–against Senate President Bukola Saraki for false declaration of assets. In November the tribunal adjourned the trial until 2017.
Public Access to Information: The law allows any person to request information from a government office. The office must grant access to the information, explain why access was denied within seven days of receiving the request, or transfer the request to the appropriate office within three days. By law all public offices must keep records and ensure that information, except as otherwise noted, is “widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means, including print, electronic, and online sources.” The law provides immunity for public officers against any form of civil or criminal proceeding for “disclosure in good faith of any information” pursuant to the law, except for that information covered under the criminal code, penal code, and the Official Secrets Act. This exception hinders disclosure and access to information. The law provides a 30-day period during which anyone denied access by any public institution may submit the matter to court for a judicial review. The law includes a fine of 500,000 naira ($1,590) for any institution or public officer who wrongfully denies access to information or records. Destruction of records is a felony punishable by a minimum penalty of one year’s imprisonment. Immunity from this law, however, is provided for the president, vice president, senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, and all state governors. The law requires each public institution to submit an annual report on freedom of information requests and compliance to the attorney general and to make such information available to the public by various means; such information, however, was difficult to locate.