BREAKING NEWS: Nigeria at risk – Rights group slams Tinubu over alleged reluctance to tackle corruption

Nigeria at risk – Rights group slams Tinubu over alleged reluctance to tackle corruption

Nigeria at risk – Rights group slams Tinubu over alleged reluctance to tackle corruption

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President Bola Tinubu has been criticised over his alleged reluctance to tackle monumental corruption in Nigeria, especially in the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.

Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education, CHRICED, in a press conference addressed by its Executive Director, Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, in Abuja on Thursday, alerted Nigerians of the decadence and threats to the country’s nascent democracy.

The group called on all anticorruption advocates and well-meaning Nigerians to stand up against corruption, demand accountability, and urgently cleanse the public sector.

“Ever so often, Nigerians are awakened to the odious corruption crisis threatening our nascent democracy. If it is not the National Assembly that is enmeshed in budget padding, it will be the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation that is diverting billions of Naira meant for poverty alleviation to private pockets, or the office of Accountant-General of the Federation that is swallowing public funds. From the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the least agency of our public institutions, the stench of corruption is so apparent for one to feel and touch,” the group said.

“Pension funds, and capital budgets meant for health, infrastructure, security, and education have all been siphoned off through corrupt means. Today, individuals under investigation by the EFCC and ICPC hold influential positions in the government and National Assembly.

“This trend is fueling the growth of corruption, weakening the anti-corruption agencies, and widening the gap between the voters and the politicians.

“On February 27, 2024, there was a reported corruption scandal involving a group of seven high-ranking officers from the Nigeria Customs Service.

“According to the report by a top online outlet, an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission revealed these officers were found to have accepted a total of N12 billion in bribes from smugglers in exchange for turning a blind eye to their illegal activities.

“Among those implicated in the scandal were Mr Kayode Kolade, the Comptroller of the Federal Operation Unit Zone C in Port Harcourt, who received a bribe of N9.5 billion, an equivalent of about $6.33 million, Mr Ibrahim Jalo, the Area Controller of Zone B in Kaduna, who received N1.1 billion.

“Upon Mr. Jalo’s arrest, he was found in possession of $32,000 and N500,000 in cash. Other officers involved in the scheme included Mr Nurudeen Musa, who received N950 million; Mr Hamisu Ibrahim, who received N120 million; and Mr Madugu Saleh and Mohammed Rabiu, who received N85 million and N84 million, respectively.

“In a related development, undercover investigator, Fisayo Soyombo of Foundation for Investigative Journalism revealed the complicity of Nigeria Customs officers. Fisayo’s 16-minute undercover video showed how easy it is to smuggle anything into Nigeria with the complicity of corrupt customs officials.

“Despite these actions, successive governments have chosen to overlook numerous investigations into the Nigeria Customs Service.

CHRICED said it is deeply concerned about these latest exposures of corruption involving the Nigeria Customs Service.

“We are convinced that the Minister of Finance, the Board of the Nigeria Customs, and the National Assembly must urgently respond to the EFCC investigation reports.

It said it is disappointing that, “nine months in office, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has shown no clear commitment to tackling corruption.

“We recommend immediate suspension and prosecution of the corrupt Customs officers identified in the EFCC investigation, along with the recovery of the entire bribe amounts they received.

“We call for prompt investigation, arrest, and prosecution of all officers implicated in the recent undercover investigation by Fisayo Soyombo.

“We call for a comprehensive reform of the Nigeria Customs Act to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigeria Customs Board and curtail the overbearing powers of the Minister of Finance.

“The absence of accountability and transparency in our government has created a culture of impunity where those in power believe they can act without facing consequences.

“Furthermore, we must work towards strengthening our institutions and promoting a culture of integrity and ethical behaviour in our society.”

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