PODCAST: Analysis of James Ibori’s prosecution by the British, the efficiency of the EFCC, and political influence on policing in Nigeria
Submitted by IQ4News on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 2:16pm
By Dr Yemisi Akinbobola
The ground-breaking investigation, led by the Metropolitan Police Service's Proceeds of Corruption Unit (POCU) and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), is part of the UK’s current government’s assertion in tackling “corruption in the developing world involving British citizens, companies or financial institutions” said the DfID in a press release.
The POCU worked alongside Nigeria's anti-corruption unit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in investigations into the alleged embezzlement of some N35 billion ($250 million) from Nigeria’s public funds by James Ibori while he was in office.
Investigating the Ibori case has cost the DfID £750,000 a year since the investigations started in 2005. By 2007 some of Ibori’s assets worth $35M were frozen, and in 2010 he was arrested in Dubai and extradited to the UK.
Ibori’s guilty plea on 27 February, 2012, will see the defendant sentenced at Southwark crown court on 16 April, 2012. A successful end to 7 years of investigation by the British perhaps, but what does this mean for Nigeria’s own anti-corruption unit, the EFCC and their apparent failure to do what the British has managed to do?
Although the EFCC claim to have prosecuted 500 people since 2003, most people criticize them for not managing to prosecute enough corrupt officials, whose cases often drag-on for year, while others - like the previous charges brought against Ibori in 2009 by the EFCC in Nigeria - are dismissed altogether by judges. Some also argue that a majority of petitions brought to the EFCC are not even investigated.
The country has also witnessed, and has been angered by the ecstatic welcome given to corrupt officials upon their release from prison. We recall the case of Bode George who was convicted and imprisoned in 2009 for his complicity in a N85 billion fraud at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), when he was chairman of the board. While the conviction was seen as a step forward, the satisfaction was brought short by the fact that the prison term was only for two years.
The anger was further heated when on the day of his release from Kiri-kiri prison in Lagos, Bode George was met by a carnival-like welcome, by President Olusegun Obasanjo – though he later claimed to have been tricked into attending - some state governors and ministers like Minister of Defence, Mr Olatokunbo Kayode, alongside his family and other well-wishers.
In this interview with political analyst, Alh Garba Sani, we analysis the James Ibori case, the EFCC and political influence in policing in Nigeria.