Recent reports that British law enforcement officers collected £20,000 from former Delta State governor, James Ibori, is not a problem for Nigeria and taints only Britain’s reputation, prominent lawyers in Nigeria have said.
The lawyers told Punch that Ibori’s shameful actions – paying off British detectives for information regarding his court case – does nothing to tarnish Nigeria’s image as it has no image to protect in the first place.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay, reports of the arrests of four British law enforcement officials in a bribery scandal involving Ibori threaten Britain’s reputation alone because “Nigeria has no reputation to lose in this case”.
“The country is already known worldwide for corruption. Nigeria is close to the top on the list of corrupt countries. It is the UK that has something to lose. It is a stain on their reputation that one of their police officers could take bribe from a suspect who comes from a developing nation,” he said.
Emeka Ngige, (SAN) also brushed off the robbery scandal involving the British cops, saying in comparison, “in the Nigerian police, corruption is the norm; it is the culture“.
He said the culture of corruption has become so commonplace in Nigeria that “news that a Nigerian Police officer collected bribe to reveal information to a suspect, it would not be news to them”.
A recent report released by the US State Department, the 2011 report on global human rights, highlighted Nigeria’s widespread and deep-seeded struggle with corruption.
The report stated that the Nigerian government, at all levels, is tainted with corruption and no one is held accountable.
“The law provides criminal penalties for official corrupt; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,” the report, submitted by Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to the U.S. Congress said.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces,” it continued.
In a society where criminal behavior pays and corruption is the order of the day, politicians indulge their every law-breaking whim, with no fear of punishment or accountability.
Britain also guilty of corruption
Another Nigerian lawyer, Mike Igbokwe, argued that the British/Ibori bribery scandal only goes to show that corruption is a global phenomenon.
Igbokwe took the opportunity, not to decry the failed state of the Nigerian law enforcement system, but to gloat over the tarnished reputation of the British police.
“The noise that the British police and their government make about African countries being corrupt no longer has any basis. British police have to redeem their image.
“This is also an indication that this is what Nigerian politicians do with public funds; bribing their way in and outside the country,” he said.
But for human rights activist, Femi Falana, the continued revelation of Ibori’s corrupt practices shames Nigeria.
Falana said, “He was allowed to become a governor- the judiciary in Nigeria has been exposed to unprecedented ridicule. It is a shame that a man that was convicted in 1991, 1992 and 1995, for fraud and related offences, became a governor in defiance of the Constitution.
“As the Ibori story is not concluded, the leading ambassador of a kleptomaniac ruling elite is going to continue to shame the country,” he said.