By Yetunde Verissimo
Abuja-The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in collaboration with Transparency International has called on the Federal government to be more transparent in tackling security so as not to jeopardize President Mohammad Buhari’s anti-inflammatory corruption campaign .
In a press statement issued on Thursday in Abuja, the groups explained that unpublished defence budgets and arms procurements are still open to abuse by corrupt officials seeking to benefit from the conflict with Boko Haram and launder stolen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.
They noted that an estimated US $15bn has been stolen from the defence sector and billions of Naira spent annually without clear rationale.
While commending President Buhari for his moves to curb corruption in the secretive and powerful defence sector, they stressed that 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 transparency was needed in the defence sector to put a stop to corruption.
He 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.”
Also, Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security, added that a detailed anti corruption reforms would help tackle corruption, adding that all less corruption enabling environment be created.
According to her, “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 further advised the Federal government to extend public access to defence and security information by amending the Freedom of Information Act,
Regulate secretive security votes And protect whistle blowers.
They also called on the international community to prioritise anti-corruption clauses in their defence deals.