Legal Framework for Combating Corruption in Nigeria

Legal Framework for Combating Corruption in Nigeria

 Based on the need to combat Corruption in Nigeria, some measures have been taken by the government to tackle and minimize it in the Country. These measures include the promulgations of laws which criminalizes corrupt practices and the establishment of institutions with specific mandate to combat Corruption. Some of the Legal Frameworks for combating Corruption in Nigeria are:

Criminal Code and Penal Code

Prior to Nigerian Independence in 1960, two principal legislations which had provisions that dealt with criminal offences were established. These legislations were the Criminal and Penal Codes. The Criminal Code was enacted in 1916 as the Nigeria Criminal Code Act 1916, while the Penal Code was enacted in 1960 as the Nigeria Penal Code Act 1960.

These laws were enacted to check crimes committed by citizens and to prescribe appropriate punishments to offenders in a bid to reduce criminal and corrupt practices in the Nigerian society. The word ‘offence’ and ‘crime’ are used in the Criminal and Penal Codes of Nigeria. Isiaka and Okaphor stated that Section 2 of the Criminal Code and Section 4(2) of the Penal Code in Nigeria stated the following about offence and crime:

An act or oversight which renders the person doing the act or oversight liable to punishment under the Code or under any act or law’ in the country; while Section 4(2) of the Penal Code provides that in accordance with the provisions of any law of the state, the doing of an act or omission made an offence, then such act or omission becomes a crime.

The Criminal and Penal codes were introduced in Nigeria by the British Colonial Government when Corruption was thought not to be a very severe issue in its occurrences and consequences

than other crimes. The provisions on Corruption in these codes dealt mostly with the offence of bribery and do not provide provisions for the modern tendencies and complexity of corrupt practices in the Country.

However, the Nigerian parliament have reviewed these codes in the Post-Independence Era. The various offences constituting corruption in the Criminal and Penal Codes are; bribery, cheating/obtaining by false pretenses, stealing/theft, criminal breach of trust, extortion, and gratification.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act was enacted in 2002. This Act was later amended in 2004. The Act established the EFCC as an Anti-Corruption Agency in Nigeria and spelling out its composition and functions.

According to the EFCC, economic crimes are those non-violent criminal and unlawful acts carried out by individuals, group of people or organizations with the intent and objective of acquiring financial resources illegally. It also includes any kind of fraud, money laundering, illegal oil bunkering, evasion, dumping of toxic waste, financing of terrorism. Section 46 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 stated that:

Economic crimes are non-violent criminal and unlawful activities perpetrated by persons, group of persons/organizations with the objective of obtaining wealth illegally. It also includes any form of fraud, money laundering, illegal oil bunkering, evasion, dumping of toxic waste, and all forms of financing terrorism.

This Act was enacted to help rid Nigeria of economic and financial crimes and to well coordinate the internal exertion of the universal fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism. Section 14 of the EFCC Act 2004 makes provisions for Bank officers, financial institutions and designated financial institutions in their official capacities to take responsibility of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Act and take measures to safeguard the genuineness and legitimacy of any statement submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Act.

The main purpose of the EFCC (Establishment) Act was to establish an institution given the mandate to investigate all forms of financial crimes as well as the coordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws in Nigeria. 

Independent corrupt practices and other related offences Act 2000

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act was enacted in 2000. It prohibits and prescribes punishments for corrupt practices and other related offences committed in Nigeria. The Act establishes an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission vesting it with power and responsibility to investigate and prosecute offenders. The Act provides:

There is hereby established a Commission to be known as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (hereinafter in this Act referred to as “the Commission.” The Commission is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and it may sue and be sued in its corporate name. The Commission consists of a chairman and twelve other members two of whom must come from each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

The Act also provides that the chairman of the ICPC should be an individual who has occupied the office of a Judge of a Superior Court of record in Nigeria or is qualified to occupy such office. The provision of section 3(4) of the Act seems to recommend that the Chairman of the Commission shall mandatorily be an individual who has qualified as a lawyer and has been in the legal profession in Nigeria for a minimum of 10 years. Consequently, the Chairman of the Commission cannot be selected among persons from other profession, except the legal Profession. However, the justification for this was not provided in this Establishment Act.

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The Act also gives the Commission powers to enact rules meant to give effect to the provisions of the Act and without causing bias to the overall provisions of the Act by making rules that provide for the form of correct notification, directive, pronouncement or any other issue in the Act. The Commission can also make rules for the service of conveyance of any notification, directive, regulation, or other things to be done under the Act. The ICPC Act 2004 stated the following:

The chairman of the Commission may make rules for giving effect to the provisions of this Act and without prejudice to the generality of this provisions may make rules- (a) providing for the form of nay notice, order, declaration or any other matter under this Act; and (b) For the service or delivery of any notice, order, direction, instruction, or other things to be done under this Act.

Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006

The increase in occurrences of financial crimes in the early 1990s particularly the Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) coordinated and carried out by Nigerians in Nigeria and abroad gave rise to the then military government to urgently promulgate the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Decree in 1995 in order to curtail the occurrence.

Therefore, the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006 which is the existing law on advance fee fraud in Nigeria has its origin in the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Decree of 1995. Section 1(1) of the Act establishes the offence of collecting or obtaining by false pretence. This section has provision which is similar to the provision of Section 419 of the Criminal Code.

This implies that the provision of Section 1(1) of the AFF Act 2006 is an acclimatization of the provision of Section 419 of the Criminal Code. Ardzard stated the following:

Section 1(1) of the Act creates the offence of obtaining by false pretence. The provision of the section bears similarity with the provision of section 419 of the Criminal Code. It is thus, very clear that the provision of the above section is an adaptation of the provision of Section 419 of the Criminal Code.

Nevertheless, in acclimatizing the provision of Section 419 of the Criminal Code, some modifications were made in the provision of Section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act. These modifications are:

  • The ‘object’ of the offence of collecting or obtaining by false pretences as enacted created in section 419.
  • The punishment recommended for the offences.
  • The requirement for an authorization as a pre-condition for the arrest of anyone who contravenes the provision under section 419.

Based on the modifications made on the AFF Act 2006, it is obvious that under section 419 of the Criminal Code, the object of the offence of collecting or obtaining by false pretence refers to ‘anything that can be stolen.

However, in the AFF Act 2006, the ‘object’ of the offence of collecting or obtaining by false pretence refers to ‘any belonging’. This obviously is not same as ‘anything that can be stolen’ as provided in Section 419 of the Criminal Code.

The provision of Section 1(2) of the Act implies that a person who through false pretence and with the intention to swindle, convinces another person resident in Nigeria or a citizen of another Country to discuss again on him or any other person by allowing a thing to be done on the agreement that the gain has been or will be paid for, commits an offence under this Act. Section 1(2) of the Act has the following provision:

A person who by false pretence, and with the intent to defraud, induces any other person in Nigeria or in any other country, to confer a benefit on him or any other person by doing or permitting a thing to be done on the understanding that the benefit has been or will be paid for commits an offence under this Act.

By Admin

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