ABUJA — The Nigerian president’s anti-corruption campaign continues, with high-profile officials facing charges. But activists worry that the campaign is becoming increasingly one-sided, accusing the president of targeting his political foes. The former national security adviser appears in court Wednesday on money laundering charges.
It is another day in the ongoing trial of Nigeria’s former national security adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. Despite rulings from several courts granting him bail, Dasuki is being held by the Nigerian state security services.
He has been charged with mismanaging more than $2 billion meant for purchasing military equipment for the fight against Boko Haram, under former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Dasuki is just one of several high-profile Nigerians who have been arrested as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign over the past year. Last month, Jonathan’s media adviser, Reuben Abati, was arrested by an anti-graft agency. The former journalist was later granted bail.
Many people are being accused of money laundering and other forms of political corruption, but no one has been indicted. And people are beginning to wonder why.
“What we have seen is some level of judicial conspiracy in the entire process, people going to court and getting bail, finding a way to maneuver the official process,” said Hashim.
Salaudeen Hashim, who works for a local nonprofit that partners with Transparency International to track government corruption, says there are problems with the way corruption cases are handled in Nigeria, including a lack of coordination between investigators and prosecutors.
Perhaps the biggest issue, he says, is bribery.
“But most importantly, is the fact that our judicial process has become commercialized,” said Hashim. “So the highest bidder will always get the most comfortable side of justice.”
About a dozen high level Nigerian judges have now been accused of fraud and accepting bribes. State security officers have raided some of their homes in the past few weeks.
Some people say judges have hampered the country’s fight against corruption, but others think it is nothing more than a smear campaign targeting the president’s own political opponents.
A report from the Washington-based Pew Research Center that came out this week shows that most Nigerians believe that only a small number of elite citizens benefit from the government.
It also said that 60 percent of Nigerians are optimistic that there will be less corruption in the future.