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Analysis: How Nigeria Anti-Graft Agencies are Aiding and Abetting Corruption In NIRSAl – Omoetanami Sunmonu

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In 2014 when the current government was campaigning for election, one of the campaign messages that got many Nigerians to buy into the vision of the All Progressive Congress (APC), which eventually won election and took over power from then incumbent government is their stance on corruption.

During the 16-year long PDP administration, it was generally believed that the nation was immersed in corruption which was largely seen as the bane of its development; hence, many Nigerians were ready to pitch their tent with the APC which campaigned vigorously to fight corruption in the public sector.

Nigerians were indeed hopeful when the APC were victorious at the poll; but it is pathetic what has become of that hope today, as the nation is now reputed to be more corrupt under a government that rode to power on the “trust” to fight corruption.

In the most recent report by Transparency International on the nation’s Corruption Perception Index, Nigeria is ranked 149 out of 180, scoring 25% score in corruption index. This represents 3 points up from the 146 position it occupied in 2019, and a 13-point higher from her position in 2014 when the current government took over power on the basis to fight corruption.

Among reasons given by the corruption watchdog body are that: “Nigeria’s rule of law is selective, the powerful rich do not play by the rules; institutionalized corruption in political parties and political integrity; anti-corruption legal and policy framework is underdeveloped; inability to implement recommendations on anti-corruption; endemic corruption in vital sectors such as oil and gas and defence”. The reality according to these figures, policy and actions of government is that the nation is indeed more corrupt than it was in 2014.

This intervention is essentially informed by reported corruption activities at the Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) which, like other reported cases of corruption, has largely been swept under, raising further doubt on the administration’s claims and supposed fight against corruption.

According to a revealing, but disturbing investigation by Town Crier, a whooping sum of 150 billion naira meant for famers and agricultural development, has been allegedly siphoned by the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu AbdulHameed.

The report detailed how Aliyu AbdulHameed alongside his cronies, including his own son, masterminded the diversion of monies meant for development of a very critical sector that is supposed to consolidate government’s efforts at economic diversification for growth.

What is more worrisome in the investigation is the fact that top government officials were implicated in this high level corruption; some of them, serving as conduit and co-conspirators in the scheme that has successfully diverted public funds for personal enrichment to the detriment of the common Nigerian farmers.

It is not surprising therefore that, despite the level of revelations and public knowledge of the alleged mismanagement of public funds at the NIRSAL, largely backed up by proves, the cheerleader remains the Managing Director of the organization, even after his tenure has expired.

In one of such abuses of office to cover, security and relevant anti-graft agencies were prohibited from investigating the allegation against Aliyu AbdulHammeed; the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was said to have frustrated efforts at opening up of a full scale investigations into the alleged misconduct.

This, alongside, the complicity of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who doubles as the Chairman of the Board of NIRSAL, represents a further blow on the fight, if ever any, of the President against corruption which was one of his campaign promises to Nigerians.

It is hoped that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and other anti-graft agencies will open and expedite investigations into these damning allegations against Aliyu AbdulHammed in the interest of justice and the much talked corruption fight by the current administration.

The new Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, especially must begin to live his much “celebrated” address at the confirmation screening at the Senate recently where he assured Nigerians on his readiness to fight corruption. It is hoped that his address will not amount to another rhetoric without substance and will to prosecute offenders irrespective of their political leanings.

Also, the CBN Governor is demanded to immediately terminate the extension of Aliyu’s appointment at the NIRSAL to pave way for unfettered investigations, while the Attorney General is also requested to discontinue efforts that may sabotage investigation.

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