Anti-graft fight: Buhari administration still struggles to deliver campaign promise, two years after inauguration
Two years into his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to record a significant achievement regarding the fight against corruption, his major campaign promise.
According to the data gleaned from the websites of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the two major corruption fighting agencies of the Federal government, the number of convictions secured in the first two years of Buhari administration has not fared better compared to the past administration’s.
While receiving the Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2015, the pres dent reiterated his campaign pledge to end corruption.
“We shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism—the evil of corruption,” the president said.
Two years after he was sworn in, Buhari’s tough talk is yet to match his achievement record. At best, the public record shows only a marginal di ference in the number of conviction between his administration and his predecessor’s.
Between 2015 and 2016, EFCC has succeeded in convicting only 228 fraud criminals as against 243 convicts sentenced to various jail terms or fined between 2013 and 2014. The difference represents 6 percent drop in the rate of conviction between the last two years of former President Goodluck Jonathan administration and the first two years of President Buhari.
According to the data published on the agency’s website, the number of convictions from 2013 to 2016 are 117, 126, 103 and 125 respectively.
Though the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, told journalists recently that the agency has secured over 140 convictions in the first half of 2017, including some elusive ‘high profile’ criminals, the data is not listed among those published on the website and The Guardian could not confirm
the figure as the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren did not respond to our reporter’s request for confirmation.
ICPC has not fared better either. Throughout the five-year tenure period of the former ICPC chairman, Ekpo Nta, ICPC obtained only 39 convictions according to the record published on the agency’s website by the prosecution department.
From 2015 when Buhari became the president till now, a total number of 18 convictions were recorded in comparison to 21 convictions recorded between
2012 and 2014.
Buhari’s party, All Progressive Congress, APC, stated in its manifesto the need to “reform and strengthen the justice system for efficient administration and dispensation of justice along with the creation of special courts for accelerated hearing of corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism and similar cases of national importance.” This pledge is yet to take effect.
Currently, 43 high profile cases, some as old as 10 years, of suspects involved in misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, criminal breach of trust, and subsidy scam are still being prosecuted, the EFCC record shows.
Though the Chairman of Progressives Governor Forum (PGF), Rochas Okorochas had asked Nigerians not to judge the ruling party until their mandates expires; the slow pace of anti-corruption fight presents a clear indication that Buhari administration may in the end fail to “kill” corruption, or “fight corruption to standstill” as his pre-election campaign stressed.
The APC spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, in an interview with journalists in Abuja has told Nigerians not to worry about the snail speed of the battle against corruption in as much as anti-graft agencies develop capacity in the process, and every accused person gets justice in the end.
“Yes it is slow and we want to see more convictions, we also need to ensure that our institutions develop more capacity to prosecute and investigate. But ultimately, we have to ensure that justice is done to everyone that is accused of one thing or the other,” he said.