*Two of every three encounters with the police invokes bribery
By Abbanaobi-Eku Onyeka and Chuks-Oyema Aziken
Survey released yesterday by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has projected the Police as the most corrupt public institutions in Nigeria for five years running.
Of the five major public institutions surveyed, the police took the lead as the most corrupt, with the power sector identified as the second most corrupt in the country.
Other public institutions identified as equally corrupt by 70% of Nigerians surveyed according to SERAP are: the judiciary, education and health ministries. The survey revealed that the level of corruption has not changed in the last 5 years.
The latest report by SERAP entitled Nigeria: Corruption Perception Survey was launched Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotels, Lagos.
The Police have however, disputed the content and context of the report, insisting that they have been misrepresented and maligned.
Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Frank Mba who gave a terse reaction to the report, simply dismissed the report as fabricated, cooked-up and as not representing reality.
According to the survey, “a bribe is paid in 54% of interactions with the police. In fact, there is a 63% probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he or she interacted with the police. That is almost two out of three.”
The chairman of the report launch, Prof. Akin Oyebode said it is unfortunate that “Nigeria looked upon as a giant of Africa, could not conduct free, fair and credible elections”, stressing “it is a smear on the image of Nigeria”.
The report read in part: “Several Nigerians have to pay a bribe to access police, judiciary, power, education and health services.
“Corruption is still a key concern in the country with 70% of Nigerians describing the level of corruption as high and in the same measure, stating that corruption levels either increased or remained the same in the last five years.
“The national survey carried out between September and December 2018, covered the police, judiciary, power, education and health sectors to assess the state of corruption in law enforcement and public service provision.
“From the analysis of the anti-corruption legal and institutional framework in Nigeria, the following cross-cutting issues emerged: there is lack of political goodwill to consistently enforce the different anti-corruption laws; inadequate funding for the various anti-corruption agencies; weak public support and/or ownership of anti-corruption initiatives; poor clarity of roles between various anti-corruption agencies; and public perceptions of politicisation of corruption arrests and prosecutions.
“Bribery experiences were interrogated and recorded in the key sectors of education, health, the police, judiciary and power. Data analysis was conducted under five different and interrelated variables.
“There was a 63% probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he/she interacted with the police.
“The likelihood of bribery in the power sector stood at 49%. With the chances of encountering bribery at the judiciary, education and health services standing at 27%, 25% and 20% respectively.
“The police were the most adversely ranked on this indicator. For every 100 police interactions reported by the respondents, there was a bribe paid in 54 interactions.
“The prevalence levels stood at 37% in the power sector and 18% in education,17.7% in the judiciary and 14% in the health sector.
“51% of the individuals that paid bribes to the police and 35% to the power sector believed this was the only way to access the services sought from the institutions.
“The ranking of the education sector and the judiciary was less adverse with 16% perceiving bribery as the main avenue of accessing services in the institutions, and health services recording 13%.
“The police and judiciary had the largest proportion of total bribes paid at 33% and 31% respectively. Bribes paid for education, power and health services accounted for 19%, 10.9 and 5% respectively of all bribes reported.
“The average amount of bribe paid by the respondents was highest among those who paid to the judiciary at about Naira 108,000 (US$ 298).
“All the other institutions ranked lower on this variable with N12,253 and N11,566 reportedly paid to the police and education sectors, and N6,462 and N5,143 paid for health and power services respectively.
“Perceptions on corruption trends in Nigeria show almost 70% of the respondents perceived the current level of corruption as high compared to 15.5% that felt it was low.
“70% of the respondents said corruption levels either increased or remained the same in the last five years. Only a quarter of the respondents felt corruption reduced in this period.
“About a third of the respondents (31.5%) believed the ruling elite are pursuing their selfish interests only therefore corruption levels will increase into the future.
“Additionally, about a quarter of the respondents (24.9%) believed the current anti-corruption efforts are not comprehensive enough.
“The poor state of the economy was also seen as a driving factor to increased corruption at 17.2%.”
“Respondents identified poor coordination among the different state players as a key obstacle at 18.4%. Lack of political will from the government and weak public support were ranked second at 12%.
“The Federal government should establish an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a transparent, comprehensive, and impartial investigation into systemic corruption within the Nigeria Police Force, judiciary, and the ministries of power, education and health.
“The Inspector General of Police should receive and investigate complaints of bribery and corruption against police officers filed by members of the public.
“The police should liaise with community leaders and civil society organisations in regard to incidents of police bribery and corruption within the community.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council should identify and review all outstanding cases of judicial corruption and refer such cases to appropriate anti-corruption agencies.
“They should apply the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in a consistent and transparent manner, with full respect for the fundamental guarantees of fair trial and due process.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC should publish annual reports of all activities involving the judiciary, including expenditure, and provide the public with reliable information about its governance and organisation, including the number of judges found to be corrupt, as well as ensure that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges make periodic asset disclosures.
“The National Assembly should move swiftly to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act to ensure public access to asset declarations made by public officials, and urgently pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the Whistleblowers Bill, and the Witness Protection Bill among other relevant pieces of legislation.
“The National Assembly should immediately publish all reports of investigations on corruption and corruption-related matters in the judiciary, education, power and health sectors among others that have been conducted by the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.
“The Inspector General of Police should streamline and prioritise internal control mechanisms by establishing an Ethics and Integrity Unit at each police station.
“The unit should include a human rights officer, an anti-corruption officer, and an officer responsible for service delivery complaints.”
“The survey targeted a total of 2,655 respondents selected from seven states spread across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and the capital city of Abuja. The sample was proportionate to population size across these zones.