First case study
Second case study
Nigeria has a robust legal, regulatory and institutional framework to combat white collar crime. However, following the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's report of the recovery of 152 billion naira ($366 million), $386 million, £1.1 million,and digital currencies valued in excess of $750 million in recent times, it appears that these crimes continue to increase in Nigeria, with convictions taking several years to secure (for further details please see "A long road to convictions for white collar crimes in Nigeria" and "The struggle to investigate and prosecute crimes continues").
Transparency International's 2021 corruption perception index ranked Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa, with a score of 24 out of 100 points – one point less than in 2020.
The pertinent question, therefore, is "why is the system not effective in tackling white collar crime?". There are several reasons, which range from political interference and a weak judicial system to lack of accountability and poor remuneration. One major reason, however, is the corruption of law enforcement agents, as portrayed in the following two cases.
Mr X, a high-ranking and highly decorated officer of the Nigerian police, that the media frequently refers to as a "super cop", is currently on trial with four other police officers charged with dealing in cocaine and with the obstruction of justice. He is accused of being involved with a drug cartel operating between Brazil, Ethiopia and Nigeria, and was reportedly caught on camera handing over $61,400 in cash as a bribe to an agent of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) during the sting operation that resulted in his arrest and prosecution. This same officer has been indicted by a grand jury in the United States, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
Mr Y is a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and was removed from office on allegations of gross misconduct. A panel of inquiry set up by the government indicted Mr Y and reported that he had "directed designated operatives not to investigate" the allegations of corruption against three former governors and a current governor and had suppressed their cases. The panel also recommended the investigation of Mr Y's conduct in relation to the probe of the "arms procurements contract fraud in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)".
These two cases appear to be part of an ever-present problem relating to Nigeria's law enforcement agencies. In 2005, a former inspector general of police (IGP), was convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for concealing information from the EFCC about his business concerns and corporate interests valued at over 17.7 billion naira ($42 million). In 2012, another former IGP was tried – and cleared – on charges of embezzling money meant for the police force.
Incidents such as these merely lend more weight to the perception that Nigeria's law enforcement agencies continue to be incapable of addressing the challenges of economic and other crimes. Indeed, in the case of Mr X, part of his defence strategy appears to include accusing the NDLEA of protecting drug cartels involved in cocaine trafficking in Nigeria. This does not come as a surprise to members of the Nigerian public, who are accustomed to the sight of uniformed law enforcement agents extorting bribes in the streets in full view.
For further information on this topic please contact Ejiroghene Eferakeya at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email ([email protected]). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.