January 18, 2024 – Transparency International Defence & Security welcomes the seizure of $8.9million that was siphoned off by corrupt Nigerian officials from funds meant to be used to equip the country’s military in its fight against Boko Haram.
The Royal Court in Jersey, a British Crown Dependency, last week ruled that the funds were illicitly obtained by Nigerian officials in 2014.
Instead of being used for legitimate purchases of military equipment, the funds were moved out of Nigeria to a bank account in Jersey. The true source of the funds was obscured using foreign bank accounts and shell companies but the money ultimately benefited family members of Nigeria’s former ruling party.
Nigeria received an ‘E’ in Transparency International Defence & Security’s Government Defence Integrity Index, indicating a very high risk of corruption. Our assessment from 2018/19 showed Nigeria still faces considerable corruption risk across its defence institutions, with extremely limited controls in operations and procurement.
Josie Stewart, Head of Transparency International Defence & Security, said:
“We welcome the Royal Court’s decision to seize these misappropriated funds and begin the process of returning them to the people of Nigeria. This money, rather than supporting the security forces fighting Boko Haram, was diverted to enrich the country’s ruling class.
“This case underscores the pervasive risks of corruption in the defence sector, where the secrecy and complexity inherent in international arms deals, coupled with the large amounts of money at stake, create an environment ripe for abuse of office.
“It is incumbent on the Jersey authorities to return these funds openly and accountably to avoid them being stolen again. The successful return of these assets to the people of Nigeria will not only serve justice but also highlight the critical need for greater transparency in the global arms trade.”
Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC/Transparency International Nigeria, added:
“While we wholeheartedly welcome the decision, we are hopeful that when repatriated, the funds will be judiciously utilised in improving the living standards of common Nigerians.
“We find it disturbing that money, rather than supporting the security forces fighting Boko Haram, was diverted to enrich the country’s ruling class.
“We on this note call on Nigerian Government to strengthen the procurement process in the defence and security sector through enhanced transparency and accountability, regular review as well as independent auditing.
“We also call on relevant legislative Committees in the National Assembly and Civil Society to galvanise external oversight of the Defence and Security through regular tracking and scrutiny of budgetary allocation, appropriation, implementation and procurement activities.”