A new report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has revealed how 55 politicians, high-level public officials and leaders allegedly stole N1.354 trillion between 2006 and 2013 from Nigeria’s treasury.
According to the report, “The amount of money embezzled, misappropriated or stolen by public officials and leaders in the private between 2013 and 2017 has galloped beyond the contemplation of average Nigerians. Evidence abound that judges, judicial officers, lawyers and military officers are participants in the frenzy of despoliation of national wealth.”
The 112-page report launched wednesday in Ikeja, Lagos, is titled: ‘Letting the Big Fish Swim’ How Those Accused of High-Level Corruption are Getting away with their Crimes and Profiting from Nigeria’s Legacy of Impunity’.
The report presented to journalists by Dr. Esa Onoja, Senior Lecturer of Law, Litigation and Professional Ethics at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus, disclosed that “while the main anti-corruption agencies secured more than 1,500 non-high profile convictions between 2000 and 2017, they could only muster 10 high profile convictions in the period.”
According to the report, “In the investigation, prosecution and trial of high profile corruption cases in Nigeria, justice is imprisoned by snares contrived by actors in the legal community in aid of looters.”
The report listed “high profile cases of corruption prosecuted by anti-corruption agencies between 2000 and 2017 as 177 out of which 167 are pending. Total convictions are just 10. Out of the 10, only three convictions were obtained after full trial while seven convictions were based on plea bargaining. Yet, one of the three convictions based on full trial was discharged by the Supreme Court while three of the seven convicted were granted presidential pardon.”
The report launch chaired by the Deputy Director Macarthur Foundation, Oladayo Olaide, had in attendance human rights lawyer, Femi Falana; Babatunde Ogala; Special Assistant to the President on Anti-corruption and Coordinator of the Open Partnership Government, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku; Chinedu Nwagu, Trust Africa; Mr. Joy Esezebor, Ford Foundation; David Ukagwu, Head, DFID South-West Regional Coordinator; Wahab Shittu; former Lagos State NBA Chairman, Mr Martin Ogunleye; Miss Jennifer Ogbechi representing Mrs. Mariam Uwais; Mr. Collins Okeke, representing Dr. Olisa Agbakoba; the media, civil society groups and representatives of anti-corruption agencies.
All the participants expressed commitment to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.