The Transparency International (TI) released the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) with Nigeria ranking 150 out of 180 countries compared to 154 on the 2021 CPI results.

In the index published exclusively in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI, showed that, while the index does not show specific incidences of corruption in the country, it indicates the perception of corruption in Nigeria.

The index is impartial, objective and globally acknowledged as the most widely used cross-country parameter for measuring corruption.

TI stressed that index perception is not an assessment of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies who are making commendable efforts in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, despite the political interference they face.

The CPI, usually released at the beginning of the year with the previous two CPI released on the 25th of January 2022 and the 28th of January 2021 respectively, came less than a month to Nigeria’s general elections which are crucial not just to Nigeria, but Africa.

“While Nigerians had high expectations that this regime could address corruption, the CPI index for the country has remained consistently low in the last 10 years.

“The data used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI-Nigeria but by independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies. CISLAC/TI-Nigeria notes that while Nigeria moved 4 places up on the country ranking, Nigeria maintained its previous score of 24 which is its lowest score on the CPI since 2012”.

This, it said, suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous three CPIs.

Accordingly, CISLAC/TI-Nigeria has listed key areas to explain why Nigeria may not have either moved downwards or upwards on the 2022 CPI score. Some of these are positive, while others are negative.

Some of the positive points are the Passage of Key Legislations. The passage of the Electoral Act 2022 has helped to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral system. This has further improved citizens confidence in the electoral process. The Act compliments the 1999 Constitution especially in areas relating to political party financing.

It called on INEC to ensure that it plays its role in ensuring integrity in the conduct of political parties as envisioned in the 1999 Constitution and the Act.

It said, the passage of the Proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 is also an important step in strengthening Nigeria’s asset recovery process as relevant state institutions take steps in compliance with the Act, and encouraged INEC to implement the act fully.

“Also, the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 has helped to strengthen Nigeria’s legal frameworks when it comes to the prevention and combatting of money laundering and related crimes.

The organization also mentioned the Strengthened Resolve of Anti-graft agencies despite political interference while recognizing the efforts of the relevant anti-graft agencies in addressing corruption despite the political interference and the lack of adequate resources they need to perform optimally.

These efforts, it said cut across increased convictions and investigations.

“Having listed the positive areas, CISLAC/TI-Nigeria would like to highlight key weaknesses that will need to be improved, which it noted that, the pardoning of certain individuals by the current administration in 2022 is a major setback in the efforts to address corruption in Nigeria.

The singular act, it said is damaging as it fails the test of equity and fairness as those pardoned were Politically Exposed Person (PEPs) and the poor citizens who have been jailed for similar crimes (or even lesser offences) were left out of the pardon.

“This not only dampened the confidence of citizens, but it also weakens the morale of anti-graft agencies who spent years, money and had their officials facing physical attacks during prosecution. In addition to this, it sends a negative message to the international community especially around sharing intelligence and cooperation on asset recovery, and other related matters.

“It greatly contributes to a negative perception about fighting corruption in the country.

Another weaknesy, it said is the Prevalence of High-Profile Corruption, which remains a major challenge Nigeria currently faces.

The recovery of N30 billion from the former Accountant general of the Federation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) goes to underscore how deep corruption is entrenched.

In addition to this, is the failure to investigate and provide citizens with answers on previous leaks like the FinCen files, the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, and the Pandora Papers.

“The continuous occurrence of oil theft which is happening despite the presence of numerous security agencies in Nigeria, and increased spending on security is a major challenge in Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts. While oil producing countries are having increase in revenues, Nigeria’s 2022 oil earnings was plagued with numerous news of oil theft as Nigeria was unable to meet it’s Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries quota.The organization also identified the opaqueness of the Subsidy Regime as another weakness, saying that, in 2022, Nigeria’s National Assembly approved N4 trillion as subsidy payments for the year 2022.

The figure represented about twenty-five percent of Nigeria’s budget and despite this, Nigerians were subjected to queues for most of 2022 to get Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), with a disparity in the price with citizens purchasing the product above the range in different parts of the country according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“It is also important to add that there was an import of toxic fuel in 2022, and nobody has been held to account for this economic and financial crime.

Lack of Transparency and Accountability in the Security Sector has weakened the country”, it said, adding that, the year 2022 was a year of brazen attacks by different non-state actors who do not mean well for the country.

Despite the numerous atrocities by violent non-state actors, citizens are yet to see individuals held responsible for these acts.

CISLAC/TI-Nigeria and other partners have argued in the past that there is a nexus between corruption in the security sector and insecurity in Nigeria, even as it identified the lack of Transparency in Constituency Projects as another weakness.

“The Zonal intervention projects also known as constituency projects have continued to be operated in an opaque manner, plagued with corruption. In November 2022, the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related offences Commission (ICPC) launched its fifth phase of Constituency and Executive project tracking.

Judicial Challenges is another challenges, noting that the Nigerian judiciary has also contributed to the challenges faced in tackling corruption in Nigeria.

The organization recommended that the presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general elections are free, fair, and credible

The presidency, it said, should ensure that adequate consultation is made with citizens, the media, civil society, and other actors before presidential pardons are granted and that, the relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.

“Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the Proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensure that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

“The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country, there should be transparency in the petroleum subsidy process, and the relevant agencies should investigate and prosecute those found wanting”.

Part of the recommendations of the organization was that, the relevant agencies should investigate those behind the importation of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.

“There should be transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s Security sector, the National Assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book”.

With the elections fast approaching, it said the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice, noting that, the organization is open to working with the relevant bodies on how to make Nigeria better for the interest of the Nation.

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