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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].

CRIME

AONN Seeks Multiple Approaches to End GBV

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The Association of Orphan and Vulnerable Children (AONN) has advocated for the adoption of a multifaceted approach to combat Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) both within Nigeria and on a global scale.

Speaking during a one-day GBV sensitization in Apo-Dutse, Abuja, marking the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls, Kiema Ogunlana, the AONN FCT coordinator, stated that this has become necessary due to the increasing complexity of GBV in recent times.

 

More women are coming forward to report abuses by their wives and partners.

Additionally, there is a rising trend of children being reported as perpetrators of violent acts against their peers.

“We intervened in a recent case where a girl slashed her best friend with a razor over claims of emotional abuse,” she said.

 

Mrs. Ogunlana said AONN as an organization that focuses on children welfare, thought it wise to sensitize them irrespective of the sexual difference.

“Children within the age range of 10-17 years old were selected inline with the year’s 16-day  activism theme: ‘Unite! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.’

“When we say ‘unite,’ we mean the total involvement of everyone to achieve a violence-free society. 

“Including the males in such sensitization is important because the boys will grow up to become men and husbands to the girls. If they are ignorant of the forms of violence, they will continue perpetrating violent actions against the female folks,” she said.

Mrs. Ogunlana mentioned that the children were also taught how to deal with an abuser. “Every child is a product of learning from his or her society, and we have emphasized the need to speak out given the recent rise in mental health cases. The children were able to internalize the lessons learned and called out for the end of violence,” she added.

The District Head of Apo Dutse, Ishaku Sagbede, highlighted the wisdom of engaging children in such sensitization while welcoming members of AONN to his palace. 

“Indeed, the increase in violence among children is a reflection of the entire society, but with such sensitization Nigeria will become like London,” he asserted.

The Daisy Oak Program’s Manager, Chibueze Okechukwu, admonished the children of the consequences of SGBV, using rhymes to press the message home.

Program Manager of the Catholic Action Committee on HIV/AIDS (CACA) noted that most children suffer from abuse but do not know that they are being abused.

“When children come to understand the term ‘abuse,’ that is the only time they can speak out,” she said.

Chito Obiora-Anaekwe further said that the organization has caseworkers who follow up on cases of abuse in the community. She added that victims are beginning to speak out as a result of such activism over the years.

Segun Samuel, representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Primary Health Board, said girls and women are mostly affected by Gender-Based Violence as a result of early or forced marriage. “Women are denied access to medical services as a result of cultural practices. These have ripple effects. The most commonly experienced issues are Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), obstructed labor, and maternal risks.”

The event also included a session on personal hygiene carried out by Sam Empowerment Foundation, Communication Officer, Chiamaka Nwankwo.

Additionally, free services such as HIV/AIDS Testing Services, Hepatitis testing, Malaria Testing, Drug dispensary, and counseling services were offered to the children.

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CRIME

Tiv Residents in America Seek Justice for Late Joshua Terngu Gwebe

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The Mutual Union of the Tiv in America (MUTA), a non-profit and non-partisan charitable organization representing the Tiv community in the Americas, has condemned in strong terms, what it described as “the horrific and violent mob attack on Joshua Terngu Gwebe, a young Tiv man, on November 20, 2023”

“This attack, stemming from unfounded allegations of car theft, is unacceptable and regrettable,” the association said in a statement released by its President, Dr Akaa D.

Ayangeakaa, and Secretary General, Beeior Rov-Ikpah.

“We are deeply concerned about the unprofessional conduct of the Nigerian Police Force, particularly the reported involvement of a Superintendent of Police, Mr Haliru, in this assault.

Instead of performing his duties as a peace officer, he was alleged to have participated in the attack on Mr. Gwebe and Tersoo, a passerby who merely communicated with the victim in our native Tiv language. This incident culminated in the tragic death of Mr. Gwebe in police custody. The grievous loss of Mr Gwebe due to such conduct cannot be overlooked or excused. 

“The actions of the mob, fueled by a baseless accusation from Mr Barka Ibrahim, a taxi driver, and the complicity of police officers, including, SP Haliru, are reprehensible and unacceptable. This case is a stark example of the mob mentality plaguing Nigeria, which has no place in a democratic society. Furthermore, the ethnic profiling of Tiv people is a serious issue that demands immediate attention and action. Such discriminatory practices undermine the principles of equality and justice, and must be eradicated from our society. Those responsible must be held accountable to prevent further tragedies” the statement said.

MUTA urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to heed his warnings against human rights violations by the police just as it demanded immediate action to apprehend and prosecute all individuals involved the “brutal assault, including the dismissal of SP Haliru from the Nigeria Police Force for his unconscionable actions”. 

“We further urge a comprehensive reorientation of officers of the Nigeria Police Force to embrace their role as community peace officers, not violators of human rights. The reckless and brutal treatment of innocent civilians must cease if Nigeria is to progress as a democratic nation.

“Furthermore, we strongly urge lawmakers of Tiv and Benue extraction to rise to the occasion and fulfill their duties in defending the rights and lives of the Tiv people. It is their responsibility to ensure that their constituents are treated fairly and justly under the law. 

“Justice must be served not only for Joshua Terngu Gwebe but for every citizen whose rights have been trampled upon. We call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nigeria to investigate this incident thoroughly and ensure that all perpetrators, including erring security personnel, are held accountable” the association further stated.

It however, commended the the bravery of a passer by, Mr. Tersoo, who suffered alongside Gwebe and extended its sympathies to the family of th deceased.

“We demand an official apology from the Nigeria Police Force to the Gwebe family, along with adequate compensation for their irreplaceable loss.

“Finally, we commend the frontline actors, especially Pastor Dave Ogbole and his team, for their relentless pursuit of justice for Mr Joshua Gwebe. Their work and commitment are invaluable, and they inspire hope in these difficult times.

“MUTA remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for justice, accountability, and reform on behalf of the Tiv community and all Nigerians who seek a fairer and more equitable society,” the statement also said.

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Gunmen Kill 27, Rob Road Users for Hours Within Two Days in Benue 

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Gunmen suspected to be cult groups, have  reportedly killed 27 people within two days after invading Tse- Anule,  Chito and Tse- Akosu communities in Ukum local government area of  Benue State.

DDAILY ASSET gathered that the gang groups carried out acts on Saturday and early hours of Sunday.

 

At Tse- Anule, it was learned that the cult boys stormed the area with motorcycles and after killing people, went and mounted roadblocks along Sankara and Ayati, robbed people for several hours.

Eye witness from the axis told DAILY ASSET that the armed group came with different guns and ammunition and ordered all the villagers who were relaxing under the mango tree to lie facedown.

The source further said immediately the victims obliged and lied facedown, they opened fire on them, killing five of the defenceless people.

According to the source, who didn’t want his name mentioned in print, the armed men thereafter proceeded to mount roadblocks along Sankara and Ayati road and robbed many people of their belongings for several hours.

Recall that not more than 22 persons were also reportedly killed in Chito and Tyo Akosu communities of same Ukum Local Government Area of the state as a result of a rival gang fight  and attack on a drinking spot, bringing the total number of causalities to 27. 

The fight was said to be between the notorious criminals armed groups known as “Chain Gang” and “Full Fire” which left about 15 able men  dead, while several others sustained various degrees of gun injuries. 

One of the sources stated that the killings at Tyo Akosu settlement was perpetrated by unknown armed men who also stormed a drinking spot in the village and opened fire on unsuspecting customers at the bar. 

He said he could not readily confirm if the attack at Tyo Akosu was an extension of the Chito fight but noted that the suspicion among the locals was that the supremacy fight was fast spreading in the communities of the LGA. 

Another  source explained that, “it all started Friday afternoon during a fight for supremacy between kingpins of crime in Ukum LGA. They are known as Chain and Full Fire gangs with their operational base located in the LGA. 

“Both of them are looking for each others necks. Full FIre employed the services of another banditry group to help kill the Chain gang who got wind of the plan and laid ambush for them.   

“They opened fire and killed all of them. Some persons claimed that 10 persons were killed in the bloody fight while others said they counted 15 bodies. 

“But it was an internal fight for supremacy among gangs and not a communal crisis. In fact the locals ran away because they feared for their lives. They feared that in the course of the reprisal, they might be affected despite being innocent.” 

“Ukum has become hotbed of killings, we are all living in fear as we speak because we cannot tell who is who among our local boys,” he said. 

When contacted,  the Benue State Command Police Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene said she was yet to receive information on the incidents

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