|Wikileaks:||View 01ABUJA1533 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||PGOV KCRM NI|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ABUJA 001533 SIPDIS SENSITIVE DEPT FOR AF AND INL DOJ FOR OPDAT: JIM SILVERWOOD AND OIA: JASON CARTER E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, KCRM, NI SUBJECT: NIGERIA: A CLOSE LOOK AT THE GON'S ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION REF: ABUJA 1305 SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY 1. (U) Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan DeWitt visited Abuja June 11 - 29 as part of an INL-funded U.S. Department of Justice Overseas Prosecution Development and Training (OPDAT) program to work with Nigeria,s fledgling Anti-Corruption Commission and design possible training assistance to this important GON entity. DeWitt,s visit came against the backdrop of Nigeria being identified by respected international NGO "Transparency International" as the world,s second most corrupt country. The following reflect DeWitt,s expert observations made during her three weeks spent with Commission prosecutors and its management. 2. (SBU) The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) recently filed its first two cases in the High Court in Abuja. In both matters, the defendants filed motions challenging the constitutionality of the anti-corruption act, which the trial court denied. In both cases, the defendants also filed interlocutory appeals of the trial court,s denial of these motions, which the Court of Appeals also denied. 3. (SBU) The first case concerned an attempt by five defendants to bribe the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the ICPC with 350,000 naira (approximately USD 3,000) to destroy two petitions that had been filed with the ICPC against some of the defendants. The action was filed in May and the trial started in early June. It is expected to be completed within the next week. The second case involves a 3,500,000 naira (approximately USD 35,000) bribe given to a member of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the investigation of the Management of Nigeria Airways Limited and other members of this commission to show "favour" to the head of a local company. The trial in this matter was scheduled to start on June 28, but a second motion to stay the trial was filed and is now pending before the trial court. The prior appeal of this matter was also appealed to the Supreme Court and a hearing is expected to take place in the next few days. Crustacean Courtroom Pace ------------------------- 4. (SBU) Since there are no court reporters or recording equipment in Nigerian courts, the proceedings are very slow. Although the amount of notes of proceedings taken by judges in Nigeria apparently varies somewhat from judge-to-judge and case- to-case, the judge in these matters appears to be taking down most of the proceeding almost verbatim to prepare the "written note" or record of the trial. The judge presiding over these two cases, who is one of two judges designated to hear all anti- corruption matters in Abuja, seems very knowledgeable, even- handed and fair. He made a good record on his rulings and controlled the courtroom, but did not interfere with the parties presentation of their respective cases. He was clearly trying to push the case forward in a timely manner and was working very hard to do so. Even so the proceedings were delayed by numerous motions and defense requests for adjournment. The prosecutor also seemed well prepared and was able to effectively present the case. 5. (SBU) The Anti-Corruption Act requires that prosecutions be completed within 90 days from the date of arraignment, unless there is "good reason" for it to take longer. The defense attorneys in both of these matters appear to be testing the limits of this requirement. Commission Procedure and Structure ---------------------------------- 6. (SBU) The ICPC has received more than 100 petitions, some of which have been referred to other agencies for appropriate action and some of which have been determined to be frivolous or lacking in prima facie evidence of an offense. The remaining petitions are being considered further. Several petitions have been referred to ICPC investigators for further investigation and it is anticipated that they will result in additional prosecutions. 7. (SBU) The ICPC has five prosecutors on loan from the Ministry of Justice, and ten investigators, also on loan. The ICPC hopes to hire its own staff, including investigators, starting in the next couple of months. The ICPC hired an outside consultant to prepare an applicant questionnaire so that applicants could be "objectively screened." After the screening, selected applicants will be interviewed for staff positions. An applicant examination is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 30, 2001, and approximately 27,000 people have applied for the approximately 90 positions with the ICPC. 8. (SBU) As of this time, no attorneys have been hired in any of the States, but two anti-corruption judges have been selected in each of the 36 States and the ICPC is receiving petitions from various States, not just the Federal Capital Territory. No offices have been set up in any of the 36 States or Six Zones (except the FCT), so petitions must be delivered directly to the ICPC offices in Abuja. 9. (SBU) Recently, the ICPC set up three subcommittees: (1) a legal review committee, which is tasked with reviewing the petitions filed with the ICPC and deciding which cases to further investigate and prosecute; (2) a public outreach and education committee, which is tasked with both public education on anti- corruption issues and also public relations for the ICPC; and (3) a government procedures and policies committee, which is tasked with examining the practices, systems and procedures of public bodies and to make proposed changes on ways to reduce and prevent corruption and fraud in those bodies. Each member of the ICPC is on at least one sub-committee, and each subcommittee has at least four members. Looking for Good Targets ------------------------ 10. (SBU) Professor Uche Modum, one of the ICPC members, asked AUSA DeWitt informally for advise on how to get information regarding corrupt individuals that she reads about in the paper. DeWitt explained to her the concept of "pro-active investigations," and how these are conducted in the United States, often taking months or even years to investigate. (Comment: Modum appeared to be attempting to find out how the ICPC could get access to U.S. intelligence on corrupt officials in Nigeria. End Comment.) 11. (SBU) When meeting with the ICPC as a group, DeWitt raised the concept of pro-active investigations. Chairman Akanbi advised that all investigations must start with a written petition to the ICPC, or an oral report to the ICPC that is then reduced to writing. He seemed very resistant to the concept of pro-active investigations. Although the Anti-Corruption Act does contain a provision that indicates that investigations start from written petitions, this interpretation places serious limitation on the work of the ICPC. Also, other provisions in the Act appear to give the ICPC broader investigatory powers. Future USG Assistance --------------------- 12. (SBU) The ICPC currently appears overwhelmed by foreign visitors and offers of assistance. U.S. efforts should be coordinated in some manner to avoid over-load. Also, to some extent, the ICPC has to and wants to work through their issues on their own, so that should be taken into consideration in connection with U.S. offers of assistance. Assistance aimed at staff capacity-building, rather than policy advice, will likely be more readily accepted and could be timed to correspond to the hiring of permanent staff. On the legal side, the investigators could benefit from further training by U.S. investigators, and more importantly, the ICPC would use an advisor on how to train their own investigators and how to develop standards and codes of conduct for both prosecutors and investigators. 13. (SBU) The ICPC could use specialized outside assistance during this developmental phase, especially when they get staff hired. Specifically, AUSA DeWitt recommends that we find professionals with expertise in each of the areas for which the Commission has formed sub-committees. An expert in civil service reform could work with staff and members of the corruption prevention sub-committee on model civil service processes and procedures. Similarly, an expert on community outreach and public relations could provide invaluable assistance to the public outreach sub-committee and its staff. In addition, the AUSA believes that the ICPC would use assistance in setting up administrative and accounting procedures. 14. (SBU) Help could also be offered to members of the ICPC in making contacts with counterparts on anti- corruption commissions in other countries that have succeeded, such as Botswana, Hong Kong and Singapore, and, if possible, to even pair members of these others commissions with the heads of the three sub-committees set- up within the ICPC. Comment ------- 15. (SBU) The ICPC continues to move extremely slow in getting itself established. It has a grossly inadequate budget for the task at hand, and still does not have a full and/or permanent staff. The prosecutors assigned to the ICPC are a mixed group in term of experience and capabilities. Some have several years of prosecution experience while others have little prosecution experience but have experience with civil litigation. All five prosecutors seem diligent and dedicated to their work, although five prosecutors will not be able to handle the work of the Commission in 36 States. Until it get its own prosecutors, the ICPC plans to use the five prosecutors loaned to them while hiring attorneys in different States, temporarily and as needed. 16. (SBU) There are several possible reasons the Commission is moving slowly. First, setting up this type of Commission anew is a slow and difficult process under the best of circumstances. Second, the ICPC simply does not have a sufficient budget. Third, up to now, it does not appear that Chairman Akanbi has delegated much responsibility to other Commission members. He appears by nature to be a careful and methodical person and the possible threat of corruption within the ICPC is probably in the forefront of his concerns, particularly at this early stage of the ICPC,s history. 17. (SBU) These concerns are magnified by the fact that most of the current ICPC staffing (and all of the investigators and prosecutors) are on loan from other offices and are not controlled or selected by the ICPC. The Chairman is slowly making changes and introducing new ideas to the other Commission members, in part because he is not sure whom he can trust on the Commission and in part to maintain the quality of the process. These factors, combined with the usual logistical problems in Nigeria, mean that it will probably take a couple of years for the ICPC to be fully functioning. Jeter
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