US embassy cable - 02ABUJA2871

NIGERIA: ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION'S PROGRESS

Identifier: 02ABUJA2871
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA2871 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-10-18 12:11:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: KCRM PGOV KJUS 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.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002871 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR INL AND AF 
. 
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT--SILVERWOOD 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017 
TAGS: KCRM, PGOV, KJUS, NI 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA:  ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION'S PROGRESS 
 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter.  Reasons: 1.5 (b) 
and (d). 
 
 
1.(C) SUMMARY:  The two year-old Independent Corrupt 
Practices and Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) recently 
obtained its first conviction of a public official under the 
2000 Anti-Corruption law.  The number of ICPC cases under 
investigation or submitted to courts for prosecution has 
doubled in the last six months thanks in large measure to new 
staff and USG-provided training.  Additional funding is 
needed to expand the Commission,s work outside of Abuja; 
this will be a key indicator of GON support for a sustained 
anti-corruption drive.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
2.(C) During an October 11 meeting with RNLEO, Ali Aku, the 
Special Assistance to the Chairman of the ICPC, provided an 
update on the Commission,s activities.  Aku disclosed the 
Commission has 127 cases it is handling.  Court proceedings 
have been completed in 10 cases (verdicts rendered in three; 
decisions pending in the other seven).  19 cases are 
currently in court or close to trial.  The remaining cases 
are in various stages of investigation. 
 
 
3.(C) Aku allowed RNLEO to review some ICPC internal 
documents on the status of current cases.  Police 
investigators assigned to the Commission have done work in 
100 cases.  The remaining 27 cases are deemed politically 
sensitive, involving serving Governors or Police officials, 
and are being investigated by agents of the State Security 
Service (SSS) assigned to the Commission.  Nine state 
Governors -- one fourth of the total -- are being 
investigated for misappropriating state funds, according to 
the documents.  These are the Governors of:  Kogi, Ondo, 
Anambra, Niger, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Edo, Nassarawa and Lagos 
states. 
 
 
First Three Prosecutions Concluded 
---------------------------------- 
 
 
4.(C) The first three verdicts of ICPC prosecutions were 
handed down by High Courts in the last month.  Aku 
highlighted news of the Commission,s first conviction ) the 
conviction of a Local Government Area (LGA) Chairman in Kogi 
state for misappropriating state funds.  The LGA Chairman was 
sentenced to three years in jail and fined 100,000 naira 
(equivalent to USD 800), mandated by minimum sentencing 
guidelines in the 2000 law.  The Commission had two other 
cases that produced acquittals at the same time.  A High 
Court Judge in Kano, charged with receiving bribes to 
influence his judgments, was acquitted by a fellow Kano 
judge.  Similarly, a separate Kano High Court judge acquitted 
a LGA Chairman of Kano State charged with misappropriation of 
government funds.  Aku stated the  Commission is appealing 
both decisions and he blamed the acquittals on corruption 
among the judges handling the cases. 
 
 
Shooting High 
------------- 
 
 
5.(S) Documents produced by Aku revealed that the Commission 
is investigating the President and Vice President for alleged 
corruption related to contracts.  The Commission is also 
investigating Speaker of the House, Ghali Umar Na,Abba, for 
corruption.  News of the latter investigation appeared 
recently in the local press, prompting angry outbursts from 
the Speaker, a letter from him to the ICPC Chairman demanding 
an explanation, and an injunction he filed against the ICPC. 
Na,Abba,s theatrics notwithstanding, the Commission 
continues the investigation, according to Aku.  (Note: All 
members of the National Assembly, like the Governors, Vice 
President and President, are immune from prosecution under 
the 2000 Corruption Act, but only so long as they hold 
office; once out of office, they can be prosecuted for prior 
crimes.  End Note) 
 
 
New Staff to Build Capacity 
--------------------------- 
 
 
6.(C) The Commission has had to delay and modify its 
recruitment of additional staff originally planned for 
December 2002, Aku disclosed.  The unresolved FY02 GON budget 
impasse, which allows for the disbursement of only 50% of 
agencies, funds, has forced the Commission to delay the 
recruitment until the first or second quarter of 2003.  To 
save funds, the Commission will not have a new testing and 
interviewing process for candidates, but rather will draw 
from the list of 1,000 (out of 27,000) candidates that passed 
the 2001 exam and were interviewed. 
 
 
7.(C) Aku relayed expressions of gratitude from the ICPC 
Chairman, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, for the continued USG 
support to the Commission in the form of INL-funded training 
provided by DOJ,s Overseas Prosecutorial Development, 
Assistance and Training (OPDAT) Program and the U.S. 
Treasury,s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA).  Aku stated 
that the Commission is ready to received the third phase of 
OPDAT/OTA training ) to focus on advance criminal 
investigative procedures ) in November.  A fourth phase in 
December or January will offer select ICPC investigators or 
instructors a comparative exchange with Hong Kong,s 
Anti-Corruption Commission.  RNLEO queried Aku about a recent 
press report that quoted ICPC Chairman Akanbi as expressing 
appreciation for the provision of USD 300 million in 
assistance to the Commission by an unidentified foreign 
donor.  Aku laughed, explaining that the figure was a 
misquote and meant to be USD 300,000 and the donor to whom 
the Chairman was referring was OPDAT/OTA and INL but the 
Chairman has difficulty citing correctly the several long 
names of USG agencies involved. 
 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
 
8.(C) If the Commission could actively move on its 
high-profile cases in a non-partisan manner, it might begin 
to silence criticism that it is a tooth-less body lacking the 
 bite to bring senior-level officials to justice, unless at 
the behest of the Presidency.  The conviction of a LGA 
Chairman is a symbolic first step.  Nigeria,s 774 Local 
Government Areas receive significant federal funds for local 
development but corruption at this level is serious.  A key 
test of the President,s and National Assembly,s commitment 
to a sustained, serious anti-corruption drive will be whether 
the Commission is provided the critical funding to open and 
staff its new zonal offices, so that the Commission can 
really take its anti-corruption campaign outside of Abuja. 
So far, Chairman Akanbi has succeeding in blocking attempts 
to politicize the Commission, though there is an effort by 
those involved in the current Presidential impeachment 
contest to use the Commission for political ends, and this 
includes accusations against the Chairman himself. 
 
 
JETER 

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