US embassy cable - 01ABUJA1533

NIGERIA: A CLOSE LOOK AT THE GON'S ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

Identifier: 01ABUJA1533
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA1533 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-07-02 05:16:00
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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