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Agents of change

A look at anti-corruption agencies in Africa and what more needs to be done

Over the past 20 years or so, Africa has seen an exponential growth in anti-corruption agencies as governments across the continent seek to fight what’s still considered to be an endemic problem. Here we look at the history behind ACAs, some case studies and how CFEs can assist in these efforts.

Late last year, Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), began to prepare the sale of assets that Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), had bought allegedly through ill-gotten gains.

This list of items on the selling block, which included a 90-carat, emerald-cut diamond worth $10.6 million and a sapphire-studded bra valued at $12.5 million, drew comparisons with Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines who used state money to fund a lavish lifestyle, and is mostly remembered for her collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes.

It also heightened frustrations among Nigerians already accustomed to corruption in a nation where despite its oil riches, 40% of the population, or close to 83 million, live in poverty. (See “Nigeria releases new report on poverty and inequality in country,” The World Bank, May 28, 2020, and “FG auction Diezani’s bras, other property,” chronicle, Oct. 27, 2021.)

In all, the EFCC has reportedly recovered $153 million from properties and other possessions owned by Alison-Madueke, who’s yet to be brought to justice in her own country after being accused of bribery and laundering billions of dollars during her tenure as Nigeria’s oil minister under former president Goodluck Jonathan. (See “Bawa: EFCC Recovered $153m, 80 Properties from Diezani Alison Madueke," by Kingsley Nwezeh, This Day, May 12, 2021.)

Alison-Madueke’s alleged plundering of the state’s coffers is just one of hundreds of high-profile fraud and corruption cases in Nigeria, many of which have yet to be resolved. [See “A Compendium of 100 High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre," Nov. 22, 2020.]

“The impressive work done by EFCC notwithstanding, endemic corruption still persists in Nigeria,” says Ishili Emmanuel, CFE, CFI, president and CEO of the ACFE’s Abuja Chapter in Nigeria. He points out that the country ranked 149 out of 183 countries on the Transparency International (TI) 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). (See “Corruption Perceptions Index,” 2020.)

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