The U.S. State Department has released its 2013 Annual Report on Nigeria which condemns President Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Government for frustrating anti-corruption efforts in the country.
The report shows several setbacks for the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC):
In January the EFCC won the conviction of John Yakubu Yusuf for embezzling two billion naira ($12.6 million) from the Police Pension Fund, which carried with it a two-year prison sentence. The judge fined Yusuf 250,000 Naira ($1,570) in lieu of prison time. The next day, the EFCC re-arrested Yusuf on the charge of failing to declare a 250 million Naira ($1.57 million) bank account on his mandatory Declaration of Assets Form. Yusuf remained in custody pending trial at the end of the year;
In February 2012 the EFCC brought criminal charges against former governor of Bayelsa State Timipre Sylva for laundering almost five billion Naira ($31.4 million) of funds belonging to Bayelsa State. In October 2012 the EFCC seized 48 properties worth approximately one billion Naira ($6.3 million) allegedly belonging to Sylva in Abuja. Sylva was granted bail in January 2013. The EFCC discovered still more evidence of Sylva’s money laundering activities, and after he refused to cooperate with the investigation, the EFCC arrested him again in May to bring new charges, raising the amount of money he was suspected of laundering to 6.46 billion Naira ($40.6 million). The court held Sylva in custody for one month before granting him bail of 100 million Naira ($628,000); the court refused his request to return his passports to travel to London with his wife”.
In March, President Jonathan pardoned former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted in 2008 for embezzling more than $10 million in state funds. While Alamieyeseigha served two years in prison and forfeited the property he held in the country, he was still wanted in the United Kingdom on money laundering charges, and another foreign government seized his assets. By granting him a pardon, President Jonathan paved the way for Alamieyeseigha to run for another elected office or to hold other appointed offices;
The trial of Representative Farouk Lawan charged with soliciting a bribe from Femi Otedola, president and chief executive officer of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, started on October 23. On July 4, the Federal High Court in Abuja acquitted former minister of works and housing Hassan Lawal. In May 2011 the EFCC arrested Lawal on 24 counts of fraudulently awarding contracts, money laundering, and embezzlement of 75 billion Naira ($471 million);
On May 28, the Federal High Court in Abuja started the trial of former speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole for making fraudulent contracts worth 894 million Naira ($5.6 million); it continued at year’s end.The report concluded that despite the arrest of several high-ranking officials by the EFCC, allegations continue that agency investigations target individuals who fall out of favour with the government, while those who were in favour continue their activities with impunity.