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Hidden defence budget benefits Boko Haram, undermines Buhari’s anti-corruption drive

18th May 2017

Increase transparency in the security sector to defeat corruption.

18th May, Abuja – An opaque and secretive security sector will jeopardize President Buhari’s ambitious anti-corruption drive and is derailing the fight against Boko Haram, according to a new report by Transparency International.

Weaponising Transparency has found that unpublished defence budgets and arms procurements are still open to abuse by corrupt officials seeking to benefit from the conflict with Boko Haram and launder stolen money abroad. Many deaths in the conflict have occurred while the military lacks vital equipment, critical training, and morale.

Since 2011, 50,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict with Boko Haram, while millions have been displaced. An estimated US $15bn has been stolen from the defence sector and billions of Naira spent annually without clear rationale. While President Buhari has made significant moves to take on the secretive and powerful defence sector, the pace of reform in the MOD is too slow and lacks any strategy.

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre said:

“More spending does not mean more security without tackling corruption. The defence sector is a juicy target for corrupt military leaders seeking to pad their pockets. Without increasing transparency and oversight of our most secret sector, we will not succeed in keeping Nigerian wealth in Nigeria. Corruption in the defence sector only helps Boko Haram.”

Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security said:

“With oil prices low and conflict at a high, defence has become the new oil for Nigerian kleptocrats. Taking on the defence sector was a bold move by President Buhari.  But on their own efforts to bring the corrupt to justice are not enough. Detailed anti-corruption reforms are needed to prevent the next US $15 billion quietly leaving Nigeria through the back door.”

Transparency International is recommending Nigeria undertake a series of reforms that include:

  • Develop a defence sector anti-corruption strategy to address the main enablers of corruption. The MOD and military leadership should create a special Reform Board responsible for ensuring this is executed across the sector.
  • Extend public access to defence and security information by amending the Freedom of Information Act. This would strengthen the recent Public Procurement Act reforms and reduce opportunities to abuse national secrecy for personal gain.
  • Monitor confidential procurements by establishing a confidential Senate committee and a well-trained unit with suitable security clearance inside the Bureau of Public Procurement.
  • Regulate secretive security votes. As one of the most durable forms of corruption in Nigeria today, security votes should be abolished or strictly regulated.
  • Protect whistle-blowers. The Attorney General should clarify that current protections cover the defence and security sector, and enact these protections in law.

Transparency International is also calling on the international community to prioritise anti-corruption clauses in their defence deals.



Abuja, Nigeria
Onyekachi Eke
+234 (0) 8053431626

London, UK
Dominic Kavakeb
+4420 3096 7695
+4479 6456 0340

Press Conference:
Transparency International Defence and Security and its Nigerian partner Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) will be hosting a press conference in Abuja to launch the report:

1100 / 18th May 2017

Kanem Suites

No 41 Ajose Adeogun Street

Utako District, Abuja

For more information on the press conference or to register attendance contact:
+234 803 384 4646
+234 706 134 7269