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N21 trillion, $47.4 billion stolen funds traceable to 14 former governors – HEDA Report

14 former governors, eight erstwhile Ministers and Special Advisers, and five senators are among 100 high-profile individuals fingered in alleged corruption cases involving N21. 63 trillion and $47.4 billion over the past 15 years.

N7. 9 trillion and $17. 8 billion of the alleged fraud involved men, N8.9 trillion and $20 billion involved women while N4.2 billion and $9. 6 billion involved corporate bodies, according to a report.

The alleged fraud (N21. 63 trillion) is almost equal to the 2023 budget of N21.83 trillion of the Federal Government and the Ways and Means debt of N22.7 trillion the Federal Government is owing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Reacting to the report, Justice Richard Goldstone (retd), a former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and a member of the Board of a non-governmental organization that pushes for the establishment of a permanent International Anti-Corruption Court, said it was important that the trials of those charged should be pursued with vigour and efficiency

The 77- page document released by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, otherwise known as HEDA Resource Centre, also shows that of the 100 cases considered, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, handled 79, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences, ICPC, 13, SPIPRPP and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, one each while CCT handled none.

The years of documentation are between 2007 and 2022.

The document is entitled ‘A Compendium of 100 High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria’ and is dated November 22, 2022.

It is supported by MacArthur Foundation and is in the 6th edition.

63% of the corruption cases representing 63 cases concern fraud, 20 (20%), money laundering, 6 (6%), corruption, 5 (5%), misappropriation of funds, 4 (4%), embezzlement while 1 (1%) is bribery and forgery, each.

On the status of the cases, the largest number, 61, are said to be ongoing as of the date of publication (November 22, 2022), 10 pending, two dismissed, 11 sentenced, and property of one seized while two cases are stalled.

There were also 12 convicted cases out of which some were later discharged by higher courts.

One case is still being investigated.

On the cases that are either ongoing or pending, the document notes that those involving all 14 former governors are ongoing while nine are pending.

Also, 16 other government officials have their cases ongoing while 10 are pending.

On the amounts involved, the report indicates that 88 of the cases are below N100 billion each while four are between N100 billion and N200 billion each.

For instance, while the 14 former governors and 36 other defendants were involved in less than N100 billion each, two former Ministers/ Special Advisers were involved in over N700 billion in alleged corruption cases, an amount the report described as staggering.

Similarly, of the 100 corruption cases considered, the highest year of case inception was 2022 with 24 % whereas 2017 recorded the lowest (7%).

It was also observed that there was no major difference between the amount involved in the cases and the status of the cases.

For instance, of the 100 cases with amounts below N100 billion examined, 36 are ongoing, while 20 are pending.

Suraju said: “The motivation for this compendium in 2017 was derived from the major concern for the cascading morality in the society with assorted nauseating manifestations.

“It became a regular practice celebrating those notorious for corruption and financial crime offences in the country such that those accused are not only revered and celebrated and elevated by social and religious institutions, but societies also elect them into otherwise respectable offices”.

The HEDA Chair noted that the 2019 elections still saw the election of suspects in corruption and financial crimes as governors in some states, saying, “Obviously, the proceed of crime is used by suspected politically exposed persons to purchase immunity from prosecution and delay the trial to escape public attention and possible justice”.

In the Forward to the compendium, Justice Richard Goldstone (retd), a member of the Board of a recently established no-governmental organization that pushes for the establishment of a permanent International Anti-Corruption Court, wrote: “One of the most important advantages of an International Anti-Corruption Court would be the pressure it would place on domestic authorities to investigate and prosecute grand corruption at home within a reasonable time”.

On the 100 cases the compendium highlights, Goldstone, also a former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, added: “The 100 prosecutions that are summarized in this useful report establish the intent of prosecution authorities in Nigeria to investigate and indict those against whom evidence of corruption has been amassed.

“It is equally important that the trials of those charged should be pursued with vigour and efficiency. This Report is likely to encourage that result. It is much to the credit of those who have collected and recorded this information”.  

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