The group said rather than dismiss TI’s verdict as a “fiction,” the Federal Government should accept it as a call to “raise its game to fight both grand and petty corruption, as well as end the legacy of impunity” in the country.
The TI had, in its latest Corruption Perception Index, placed Nigeria at number 148 out of 180 countries, stating that corruption in the country had worsened in the last two years when Nigeria ranked 136 on its list.
But the Presidency had dismissed the latest TI’s rating as a fiction.
However, in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said findings by TI corresponded with the realities on the ground.
It said, “While TI’s index only measures perceptions of corruption, their findings correspond substantially with the reality of impunity of perpetrators, as demonstrated by the low conviction rate, the authorities’ slowness to adopt and implement critical reforms, appearance of selectivity in the anti-corruption fight, apparent complicity of key officials and cover-up, as well as unaddressed alleged corruption against several state governors.
“The authorities should take the report seriously and use it as an opportunity to raise their game in their efforts to rid our country of corruption and underdevelopment.
“The government should make no mistake about this: Nigerians know corruption when they see it. Rather than simply criticising TI as publishing fiction or going after its board members, the government should accept the fact that its oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption has not gone to plan.
“The CPI may not be perfect, and in fact no index is. The CPI may not show actual evidence of corruption in the country, but perceptions are commonly a good indicator of the real level of corruption. In any case, the devastating effects of corruption in virtually all sectors providing essential public services are too glaring for Nigerians to ignore.
“While the government may have blocked some leakages in the systems and reduced the level of impunity witnessed under the previous administrations, it has not done enough to address long-standing cases of corruption, and the appearance of selectivity in the prosecution of corruption allegations especially when such cases involve those close to the seat of power. Today, corruption still constitutes one of the greatest threats to the country’s sustainable and equitable development.”
SERAP noted that though Buhari came to power on the promise that he would fight corruption, no high-profile looter had been jailed while the President had spent nearly three years in the saddle.
It said, “Almost three years after taking office, and promising to fight grand corruption, no ‘big fish’ suspect of corruption has yet been sent to jail. The situation has not significantly improved, and it seems unlikely that many of those facing grand corruption charges will be successfully prosecuted. Nigerians need to see real commitment and heavy investment in promoting a culture of clean government, and total obedience to the rule of law.”