Despite the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour has stated that government officials were enmeshed in widespread corruption in 2018 and that Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service.
This was contained in a report, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018″ which indicted the government and security agencies over disregard for human rights. The report stated that Nigeria’s two key anti-corruption agencies, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had broad powers to prosecute corruption, but rarely applied such powers to conscientiously and logically prosecute corruption cases.
Nigeria was ranked 144 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, CPI, for 2018, with a 27/100 score.
“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.
“Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,” the report read.
Citing examples from several agencies and non-governmental organisation, the report looked into human rights issues across the military, media, prisons, stressing that while the government took steps to investigate some of the cases, it did not “adequately” prosecute offenders.
“Human rights issues included unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by both government and non-state actors; torture by both government and non-state actors and prolonged arbitrary detention in life-threatening conditions particularly in government detention facilities; harsh and life threatening prison conditions including civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy or no evidence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI).
“There were several reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings. The national police, army, and other security services used lethal and excessive force to disperse protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects and committed other extrajudicial killings.
“The government took steps to investigate alleged abuses but fewer steps to prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. The government did not adequately investigate or prosecute most of the major outstanding allegations of human rights violations by the security forces or the majority of cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power.
“Reports indicated soldiers, police, CJTF and others committed sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls and such exploitation and abuse was a major concern in state-run IDP camps, informal camps, and local communities in and around Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and across the Northeast.
“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.
“Due to the inability of law enforcement agencies to control societal violence, the government continued to turn to the armed forces to address internal security concerns. The constitution authorizes the use of the military to “[s]uppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authorities to restore order.” Armed forces were part of continuing joint security operations in the Niger Delta, Middle Belt, and Northwest,” the report said.
On the state of detention centres across the nation, the report said the prisons remain largely overcrowded, while the inmates are tortured and their rights violated, stressing that some of the inmates have remained in detention over loss of their case files by the authorities.
The report added that while the government did not interfere with the investigation and reportage of the abuses, it was quick to dismiss them without investigating them.