The United States of America government has said the Federal Government’s failure to consistently implement laws which penalises corruption led to massive, widespread and pervasive corruption which has affected all levels of government.
In its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which covers 198 countries and territories, published on April 12 on the website of the US Department of State, the US government noted that while Nigeria’s laws penalised corruption, enforcement was not followed through, thereby, allowing civil servants and elected government officials to partake in corrupt practices.
In a section of the report, entitled: ‘Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government’, the report said there were numerous allegations of government corruption in 2021 and failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to consistently implement the laws allowed civil servants and elected officials to partake in corrupt practices.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government, including the judiciary and security services. The constitution provides immunity from civil and criminal prosecution for the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors while in office. There were numerous allegations of government corruption during the year.
“Although, the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not consistently implement the law, and government employees, including elected officials, frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,” the report stated.
The US government said impunity, exacerbated by corruption and a weak judiciary remained a significant problem in the security forces, especially in the police, military, and the Department of State Services. However, it said government regularly utilised disciplinary boards and mechanisms to investigate security force members and hold them accountable for crimes committed on duty, but the results of the accountability mechanisms were not always made public.
Significant human rights abuses included credible reports of: unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by the government, terrorists, and criminal groups; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government and terrorist groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including killings, abductions, and torture of civilians; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats against journalists and the existence of criminal libel laws; serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; serious government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including but not limited to domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and other harmful practices; crimes of violence targeting members of national/racial/ethnic minority groups and the existence of the worst forms of child labour.
Domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials sometimes cooperated and responded, but generally either dismissed allegations, did not provide a substantive response, or did not publicise any investigation they conducted.
“In the North East, there were reports that the military threatened non-governmental organisation and humanitarian organisations after aid provided by these organisations purportedly reached insurgent groups,” the report stated.