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Democracy and Corruption in Nigeria

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By Menyanga Abu

Democracy, especially the struggling and fragile democratic setting like ours is vulnerable to charges of corruption than other forms  of government. First because  freedom of speech, press and political challenges that come  with democratization allow opponents of a corrupt administration to make much of its corruption, and, secondly democracies most times have special problems of funding expensive political activities such campaigns and so many other commitments.

Finances for the party activities are not funds gotten from tax revenues but from private individuals who as time goes by will want something from the candidates they support.

It is important to mention here that corruption is not a problem solely of democracies because some of the worst corruptions experienced in this country took place under undemocratic government and some of us are living witnesses  to this if i am correct.

Corruption can deeply undermine supports for democracy in a struggling or shallow-rooted democratic setting. Corruption in political system may occur both at high and low levels throughout the democratic and administrative procedures. This can create cynicism, suspension and distrust among the populace.

High level corruption is far more dangerous to democracy than low level corruption. If the people at the highest levels pf governance are honest, citizens are more likely to seek a change in administration to demand honesty at the low levels.

Systemic corruption as witnessed in Nigeria today is far more dangerous to democracy than occasional or sporadic type of corruption. Systemic corruption can change the entire outlook of a population by making trustworthy people to feel as if they have been foolish and cheated out over the years and they may encourage the young ones, the children and the adult to accept cheating and corruption as a way of life.  

Corruption, which I think doesn’t need any definition as stated in my article “malingerism and the fight against corruption” of March 18, 2019 edition of DAILY ASSET  Newspapers, is dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving briberies and so on. It includes all processes by which a word or expression is changed from its original state to one regarded as erroneous or debased. This also includes inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means, departure from the original or from what is correct.

Corruption harms the people, undermines democracy and human nature and also tends to create rift between human being and their ultimate purpose in life. Corruption according to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhair, stands out above other problems in Nigeria as it is both a cause and aggravator of the rest of our numerous problems.

A corrupt democratic government is more likely to look like it is for the wealthy and well-connected individuals, not a government by and for the people. This is true because it is the wealthy and the rich that most often fund political parties and their activities especially the campaigns. Our tragedy as a nation today is the general and universal physical fear so long sustained over the years that we can no longer believe and trust any administration or any leader in power because the system and attitudes of our political leaders have made us to believe that any Nigerian in position of power has corruptive inclination.

Corruption has eroded that trust we suppose to have in our leaders, and it is this trust that citizens have in their leaders that deepens democracy. We have so lost hope in our leaders to the extent that we no longer believe that something good can come out of the country Nigeria apart from corruption. Our leaders continue to tell us lies in the name of politics and democracy while at the same time fraudulently enriching themselves, their families and cronies. Nigeria’s situation today is far more complex than our collective appraisal of it, from unemployment, corruption, kidnapping, armed robbery, Boko Haram, herdsmen killing to mistrust and tensions, all resulting from maladministration and mismanagement of our common wealth by the past administrations.

Corruption is social evil where the qualities of democratic dividends are lost for the unaccounted benefits. It is prevalent in most countries of the world only the degrees and extent of it varies. The forms of corruption vary and are based on the means used, the purpose, the level and its impacts on democratic institutions. When we talk about corruption what easily comes to mind is the financial aspect of it, forgetting other types of this social ill in our society.

Let us start from the mother of all corruption – political corruption. Political corruption is the worst case of moral corruption that political parties and individual politician engage in. These involved appeasing people or freebies or subsidies, buying votes or mandates. If political competition is about votes and mandate buying and not about ideas I don’t think there will be space for development and democratic growth. We should make concerted effort to put in place effective mechanism that will eliminate commercialization from our political arena for truth democracy to strife in Nigeria.

It is morally wrong to appease few people to the detriment of general populace that voted one into power. Everybody should be carried along and should benefit from the democratic dividends so as to win the support of the masses.

Any form of political corruption is a big loss to the nation. One other form of corruption that people hardly notice or talk about is corruption in businesses. This is widespread and business people engage in it to generate more incomes. In some cases the business people influence the government to enact laws that favour their business interests not minding the negative consequences on the masses. Another form of corruption that people seem to be aware of is judiciary corruption.

Corruption is judiciary is common because of the unlimited powers of the judges. Many people believe that judges are susceptible to this form of corruption because of their boundless powers in court proceedings. Judiciary corruption ranges from delayed justice, selective justice to voluntary harassment. Most times by the time the sentence comes in delayed justice, the crimes are often times forgotten. This delay could be due to deliberate shelving of cases by the judges. Haven’t you read or heard in this country when some cases that have reached the closing stage of judgments are postponed till after court holidays. All these could be corrupt delay tactics but to the judges it is a vacation. We should not forget the saying that “justice delayed is justice denied”. There is absolute need for the establishment of anti-corruption tribunal/court to quickly attend to and dispose gamut of corrupt cases in the courts across the country.

Another corrupt way of misuse of justice system is selective justice. With many pending cases the judges may instantly pick up some cases to give bails or other reliefs simply because the cases involve rich and famous people. There are some obscured instances where judicial personnel relive a person from punishment by taking bribes. One other type and area of corrupt practices which is a common phenomena is government and its agencies. This form of corruption is perpetuated through scams, awarding inflated contracts to their friends and relatives. Administrative corruption on the other hand is that situation where corrupt practices are spread from high level officers down to the low level of public servants. These public officers and their subordinates are involved in briery to perform their duty to the common people.

There are many factors promoting corruption in any given society which ranges from personal, cultural to institutional and organizational dimensions. Personal corruption result from personal greed that leads to unfettered desire for money or power with no regards to moral boundaries. The underlining cause of this type of corruption is the innate human impulse to own and amass property and wealth that in the real sense of life he or she might not necessarily use them in his or her life time. Personal corruption could be due to decline of personal sensitivity, either due to lack of education – not just western education – or negative learning experience developed by downplaying perverse conduct in the past.

Personal corruption could result from lack of sense of service in public and private institutions. This is most times noticeable in some, if not all of the public/civil servants and our politicians who use politics for their selfish interest instead of serving to better the life of the general populace. Personal corruption can also result from low awareness by individual or lack of courage to denounce corrupt behaviors and situations conducive to corruption. Cultural factors tend to promote corruption where cultural environment condone corrupt practices such as defending, hailing and admiring crooks. Society sometimes call these crooks smart guys and even give them chieftaincy tittles for being able to fraudulently enrich themselves. Other factors promoting corruption are institutional and organizational inefficient control mechanism, slow judicial processes and so on.

The forms, factors and negative impacts of corruption on democracy have to be defined in order to design policies and strategies aiming to control or reduce corruption in Nigeria. Corruption no doubt affects the cultural, political, social and economic structures of our country Nigeria and seems to be destroying the functioning of our democratic structures and organs. Corruption from all indications can affect the quality of governance and efficiency of public policies, distorts the allocation of resources, obstructs the development of the private sector and negatively affects the well-being of the poor masses.

Democracy cannot strive in the face of endemic and unjustifiable systemic corruption as such the earlier we kill corruption in this country, the better for democratic growth and general development.   

Menyanga Abu,is an Abuja based, Health System and Development Consultant. [abmigal@yahoo.com].

Business News

CGC Raises Concerns, as Customs Intercepts Cannabis, Codeine Worth N4.1b

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From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, has warned of the severe and devastating effects of the growing misuse and abuse of drugs on the youth and the society at large, as the agency intercepted cannabis indica and codeine worth N4.

1 billion.

Adeniyi spoke in Lagos over the weekend while showcasing the unwholesome imports comprising 1x40ft container of regulated, unregistered pharmaceuticals and another 1x40ft container of illicit psychotropic substances intercepted by the Tin Can Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

He disclosed that one of the 1x40ft containers No. GAOU 669921/5 imported from Canada, with approximate street value of N3.

216 billion, concealed three plastic drums with several packets of cannabis indica and 46bags of 2,144 packets of cannabis indica – all weighing 1,072kg.

The other contained 877 cartons of Barcadin cough syrup with codeine (200 bottles of 100ml per carton), and 82 cartons of Really Extra Diclofenac Sodium 50mg tablets (600 packs per carton) from India. The approximate street value of the cough syrup is N964.340 million.

According to him, the agency has made concerted efforts to prevent illegal entry and exit through diverse routes and means of conveyances, leading to a number of successfully executed interceptions and seizures of illicit drugs, arms and ammunition, illegal wildlife and petroleum products at various locations in recent months.

However, “these interceptions have brought to light a concerning trend wherein criminal networks engage in collaborative attempts to subvert the competency of the agencies tasked with mitigating the trafficking of such illicit substances,” he noted.

 “The misuse and abuse of drugs, particularly cannabis indica and codeine, pose severe dangers to our society. Codeine, a restricted drug in Nigeria, has been widely abused, leading to devastating effects on our youth.

 “This substance not only impairs the health and well-being of individuals but also contributes to the rise in criminal activities.  Cannabis indica, similarly, has become a significant concern, with its abuse leading to mental health issues, addiction, and social problems.

 “Unchecked activities involving restricted items serve multiple purposes for criminal elements. These drugs, for instance, are used as stimulants by criminals, further fueling societal unrest and instability.

 “Additionally, the proceeds from the illicit drug trade are often used to finance disruptions by non-state actors, posing a significant threat to our national security and economic stability.”

Nevertheless, Adeniyi noted that within its mandate of obstructing harmful and illegal substances from Nigerian communities, the NCS “will continue to work closely with relevant national and international agencies to conduct operations that lead to the interception of illegal goods and the disruption of criminal networks.

He disclosed that investigations were ongoing to bring perpetrators to book, while warning those engaging in illicit activities of the NCS’ unwavering vigilance and dedication to protecting the society and ensuring that all Nigerians benefit from a stable and prosperous economy.

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CRIME

Military Kill Bandit Leader While Attempting to Rustle Cows

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From Dan Amasingha,  Minna 

Gallant  Military personnel have repelled an attempt by some  bandits  to rustle  cows and  neutralized the criminal  gang leader .

Two of the Military Personnel who participated in the operation however, sustained gun shot injuries.

 

DAILY ASSET  gathered that, the incident  happened at the early  hours of Monday  at a military base in Tegina, Rafi local government area of Niger state.

During the early hours fire fight between the security personnel and the  criminals,  one of the bandits suspected to be their leader was killed in the process when they came under superior  fire power.

It was reliably gathered that the said criminals were allegedly crossing towards Mashegu and Wushishi local government areas of the state to rustle a targeted groups of cattle in those areas.

The Chairman of Rafi local government council, Alhaji Ayuba Usman Katako confirmed this in a telephone interview in Minna.

He said the two soldiers shot were responding to treatment at IBB Specialized Hospital Minna while one of the bandits suspected to be their leader was neutralized.

Ayuba Katako further revealed that the military, police and vigilantes are trying their best in ensuring peace and security of lives and properties in the state and deserved to be commended.

He decried the continuous  attacks on security personnel,  but called  on citizens for patience, support and prayers to overcome the menace of insecurity bedeviling the state and Nigeria at large.

The Niger state military cantonment in  Minna could not be reached at the time of filing in the report.

Niger East Senatorial District has been  bedeviled by  insecurity with bandits  targeting schools,  vulnerable farming communities and public institutions  in the last seven years. 

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CRIME

Police Arrest 31,912 Suspects over Criminal Offences in One Year

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The Nigeria Police arrested 31,912 suspects over armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, unlawful possession of fire arms, cultism, murder and other criminal offences in one year nationwide.

The Force Public Relations Officers, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said this during a media briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said 4,826 of the suspects were arrested over armed robbery, 3,078, kidnapping, 2,479, rape, 1,243, unlawful possession of fire arms, 3,523 cultism, 3,381, murder and 13, 402, other criminal offences.

Adejobi said the force rescued 1,750 kidnap victims, recovered 2,566 firearms, 19,510 rounds of ammunition and 1,475 vehicles/motorcycles nationwide within the period under review.

According to him, the force, also, prosecuted 29,152 criminal cases across the country, with 17,679 of the cases being conclusively dispensed while 11,576 are still ongoing during the period.

He said 51 of the cases were currently under appeal at the respective appellate courts.

“Out of the dispensed cases, an impressive 16,200 have led to the conviction of suspects who have been handed various forms of punishments for their criminal acts,” he said.

Adejobi said operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police had recently arrested 19 suspects over criminal activities across the country.

He said five AK-47 rifles; five pump action rifles, 150 live cartridges, one bullet proof jacket, one night vision telescope and vigilante uniforms were recovered from the suspects.

Adejobi added that one torch light, one boot, one AA ammunition, six magazines and 142 AK-47 live ammunition were also recovered from the suspects.

The police spokesman said two of the suspects were arrested over kidnapping through coordinated efforts of IRT operatives and local vigilante groups in Asawa village in Kogi.

According to him, the suspects had received N1 million ransom from their first and second operations, N300,000 from the third and N2 million from the fourth.

He said the suspects were responsible for the series of robberies and kidnappings along Abuja-Okene-Benin road.

The police spokesman said the suspects had been involved in kidnapping for over four years and had orchestrated four successful kidnappings.

He said the criminal activities of the duo came to an end following a fierce gun battle with police operatives, where they were captured after exhausting their ammunition.

Adejobi said AK-47 rifles and magazines were recovered from the suspects.

He said two suspects with over 22 years of “one chance” robbery experience were also arrested by police operatives.

Adejobi said the suspects had demonstrated a mastery of deceptive tactics used in the criminal activities, adding that the duo was identified as persons of interest following interrogations of previous ‘one chance’ suspects.

He said the suspects were arrested in Suleja, Niger by diligent operatives of the IRT.

Adejobi said the suspects would be charged to court upon conclusion of investigation into the cases.

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