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Violations of Human Rights Through Corrupt Practices in Governance Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Kelechi Onwubiko, Nov 3, 2003
Human Rights   Opinions
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Violations of Human Rights Through Corrupt Practices in Governance Human rights are topical issues not only in Nigeria but also across the globe and the third world particularly. First and foremost is the need to elevate these rights to a certain pedestal following the rapid transition of these societies from monarchical establishments through colonialism and emergence from the later part of the 20th century. And secondly, the experience of most of these states, especially in Africa and Latin America, of authoritarian and military regimes, which dealt very hard blows of democratic institutions and ideals culminating in the unrest and war situations experienced in some states in times past and being replayed in others today.

With most of these states firmly under “democratically elected governments” at the onset of the 21st century, the traditionally recognized human rights abuses such as extra judicial killings, restraint of freedom of movement, speech, assembly, denial of fair hearing and access to justice, etc. have drastically reduced. Even when carried out by the state and its agencies, these are fought against by the people in form of mass protests or actions in law courts. And unlike before, the governments now make prompt clarifications on such issues so as to douse tensions and be perceived as a respecter of such rights.

As commendable as this situation is, there has metamorphosed another genre of human rights abuse, far more dangerous than its predecessors and widely felt by a generality of the citizens of a nation. This form of abuse, ignored by many and unrecognized by even more people, has proved fatal to the aspirations of nations caught in its grip. This form of abuse becomes more popular by the day and therefore increases its ravaging effect because, unlike the traditional rights abuses, it is not directed at any one in particular obviating the requirement of personal injury and leaving the victims with a sense of wholesomeness. Because of its nature, its effects are felt not only by the citizens alone, but also by the perpetrators and the state itself. This latter day human rights abuse is called corruption.

Corruption mostly in governance has proved to be the nemesis of many nations. It attacks the fundamental values of human dignity and political equality of the people cutting across the social, economic and political spheres unlike any other form of abuse. The term corruption has been variously described as the “giving of something to someone with power so that he will abuse his power and act favouring the giver”; and the “offering, giving, soliciting or acceptance of an inducement or reward, which may influence the action of any person.” Implicit in the word corruption are acts such as bribery, extortion, kickback and gratification which involves two parties and over and under invoicing, fraud, embezzlement and other acts of malfeasance which a public official can commit alone.

Social scientists have identified two types of corruption as impeding economic and political development of most of the third world – they are bureaucratic corruption and political corruption. While the latter refers to “efforts by political coalitions to capture the apparatus of state or maintain a monopoly on power”, the former centers on “activities by public servants to enrich themselves through illegal means”. A combination of both manifests in opportunism and excessive enrichment of members of the politically dominant group.
For three consecutive years, 2001, 2002 and 2003, Nigeria has hovered around the first and second position on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of the Transparency International. Bureaucratic corruption has become so institutionalized that it has been elevated to the status of a national pastime. Its present degree is an inevitable outcome of political corruption as manifested in the general elections of 1999 and 2003 where all government and state agencies such as the police, INEC and army were all used to elevate a particular group to power across the nation.

The recent allegation by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai against two senate leaders, Ibrahim Mantu and Jonathan Zwingina to the effect that 54 million Naira was demanded from him for the facilitation of his confirmation as minister underscores the extent to which this ill has permeated our society. Even the Presidency has been alleged to offer huge sums of money as gratification to legislators at times when the office of the president is under threat of impeachment. Though the accused senators have been cleared of any wrongful act by their colleagues, most Nigerians would have been amazed if they had been indicted by the committee which investigated the allegation. After all, corruption investigations in Nigeria have always been a case of subterfuge, cover-ups and gerrymandering.

Because of circumstances like the one above, Nigeria has come to be seen as the most corrupt nation on earth. Corruption in Nigeria is said to permeate virtually all sphere of the society – government, private sector, education, health, the security apparatus and even religious organizations. It has become a case of “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. An annual estimate of losses through this practice is better left to the imagination. The overall impact on the economic and political well being of the citizenry is devastating.

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Francis | Mar 17th, 2004
Corruption is every where in nigeria and it starts with the leaders.It can be reduced if the leaders themselves can stop.

Tadoh | Mar 26th, 2004
I really appreciated this piece which was not only well written but also addresses a subject that Nigeria leads African countries with their example since corruption is absolutely the primary anesthetic for this rich and beautiful continent.

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