Largest Anti-Corruption project in Africa successfully handed over to Nigerian counterparts

 

Abuja, 25 November 2010 - After 5 years of successful implementation of the joint Euroepan Union - Nigeria - UNODC project in support of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Judiciary, UNODC officially handed over project tasks and functions to national counterparts. With an overall budget of 24,7 million Euro, funded under the 9 th European Development Fund (EDF), it constitutes the largest anti-corruption project in Sub-Sahara Africa and is likely to serve both as a landmark and as a highly positive example for future donor support aimed to enhance integrity in the region.

"We all have learned a lot from the project that will help us to further improve the design and implementation of future anti-corruption projects", said Mr. Kazimierz Romanski, Representative of the EU, at the official closure event.

Corruption is a major concern in the Nigerian economy and society. Of all assets embezzled from public funds in Sub-Sahara Africa, an estimated quarter is of Nigerian descent.

The project in which UNODC acted as the implementation partner for the EU aimed, inter alia, to improve the institutional structures of the EFCC and to enhance the effectiveness of investigations in corruption cases. UNODC therefore conducted specialized staff and management trainings and simultaneously strengthened training and research structures within the institution. EFCC was further equipped with a full-fledged forensic laboratory and state-of-the-art IT solutions. "The project has impacted greatly in all the key areas of the Commission's activities, particularly the automation of processes and capacity building", the Executive Chairman of EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, said at the handover event. Within the last two years, the EFCC recovered more than 3.5 billion US $ of assets looted from public funds. The success of the Commission is mirrored by exceptionally high levels of awareness and confidence among the general public.

As regards the Nigerian Judiciary, the project helped to prepare the ground for judicial reform policies both on the federal level and within ten pilot states, focusing on improving access to justice, enhancing quality and timeliness of justice delivery, strengthening integrity, accountability, and oversight in the courts, and increasing coordination within the criminal justice system. To that end, UNODC provided policy and technical advisory services, such as guidance on the improvement of judicial case management, and provided assistance to campaigns educating the general public on the court system and procedural rights.

"One of the most important components of this project, as far as we [the Judiciary] are concerned, is the awareness it created in the minds of court users to the need for a reform of the judicial process", the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Justice Gummi, said. "We seized the moment and effectively reformed our Rules of Procedure, thereby cutting out delay in the trial process." Furthermore, studies conducted under the project indicate that not only incidents of corrupt behaviour within the justice system significantly decreased over the project period, but the average remand period for prisoners awaiting trial has reduced by almost two thirds.

"The moves made by EFCC and the Judiciary have not changed the world, but they have changed the picture in Nigeria, and the perception of many regarding Nigeria's stance against corruption." (Mrs. Dagmar Thomas, Country Representative of UNODC in Nigeria).