The Federal Government has mocked the parameters used by Transparency International (TI) in its recent corruption perception index of countries.
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, said the poor ranking of Nigeria, despite its various anti-corruption feats recorded in recent time, questioned the credibility of the criteria used by the international anti-graft body in reaching its conclusions.
PlatinumPost reports that Nigeria was recently rated the second most corrupt country in West Africa in the TI index, by emerging 149 out of 180 countries, a record that was three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019.
Speaking on ‘Channels’ Politics Today’ programme monitored in Abuja on Wednesday, Malami said the country has taken steps to challenge the poor ranking of Nigeria by TI.
He called on TI to come clean on why it turned a blind eye to various mechanisms put in place to prevent fraud in the country as well as the upsurge in the number of convictions in corruption cases.
He said : “Ever since the establishment of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), the commission that was no where, has now recorded many convictions compared to the period it was established to the present time.
“The number of convictions recorded by the EFCC has surpassed all the previous performances with particular reference to convictions. So if what matters in the fight against corruption is convictions of the erring people for that matter, then certainly, the report of Transparency International in that respect, can not stand the test of time.
“Now coming to the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission) for example, if what matters to TI is the deployment of indeed, preventive measures, ICPC as for the first time, recorded a tremendous success as far as putting in place preventive measures is concerned.
“If you take for example, what the ICPC is doing in terms of tracking the execution of projects, following the trace of money within the governace circle for that matter, we have never had it so good in terms of preventing corruption and corrupt practices, taking into consideration what this institution is doing.
“If you’re equally considering the performance of the government with particular reference to the code of conduct as it relates to investigation, as it relates to convictions, as it relates to ensuring the declaration of assets by public officers, we have never had it so good within that context.
“If you’re talking of the international recovery of funds for example, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has succeeded in recovering monies internationally that were brought back, monies that were looted before this government comes in place and then repatriated in 2020 among others and again, we have succeeded in repatriating over 311 million US dollars from America arising from corrupt practices and these monies were indeed, not only brought back home, but were being applied in the Second Niger Bridge, being applied in the construction of Lagos–Ibadan Express Way, being applied in the construction of Abuja–Kano Express Way.
“So by whatever parameter within the context of the fight against corruption, a look at the Nigerian performance, I think it’s out of place for the Transparency International to arrive at that conclusion. So but one thing that I think is clear, the obscurity associated with the parameters of the TI with particular reference to the conclusion its reached.
“Looking at the report, those parameters on the basis of which they have indeed, arrived at their conclusion are not basically there. Moreso, when you now consider our ranking with particular reference to ease of doing business, the Nigeria rating has gone higher. So it’s inimical, incomprehensible that we have a ranking, an international ranking, with particular reference to transparency processes and you equally have notable convictions much more than any other period, comparatively taken into consideration preventive measures in place and infact, internationally, our performance was recognized and of which we were brought back and yet TI arrived at that conclusion.
“For your information, we have indeed, taken steps to squarely, challenge the conclusions of the TI with particular reference to those reports. That report is misplaced, we are ready to challenge it.”
Asked on the ongoing investigation of the suspended former acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, Malami said the report of the probe panel is ready and awaiting the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said : “Well to my mind, to my understanding, the report is a work in progress, a committee has been put in place by the president, the committee has rounded off its investigation, submitted their report to the president and the president is expected to take his time in looking at the steps to me taken.
“Maybe the president might consider the possibility of having a white paper committee, it all depends on the discretion of the president, taking into consideration, that it’s the Presidential committee, so perhaps maybe thinking allows what possiblities are there, but maybe arriving from what is ongoing, it’s a work in progress.”