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Nigeria: Senate Considering Bill to Impose Harsh Penalties on Corrupt Public Officials

(Feb. 18, 2010) It was reported on February 16, 2010, that the Nigerian Senate is considering a bill, An Act to Provide for the Imposition of Special Punishment on Persons Found Guilty of Economic Sabotage and Other Matters Connected Therewith, which seeks to impose harsh penalties on corrupt public officials. (Sufuyan Ojeifo, Senate Considers Bill on Life Jail for Corrupt Public Officials, THISDAY (Abuja), Feb. 16, 2010, available at, http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=166591&printer_friendly=1.)

Some of the actions of public officers that amount to economic sabotage under the language of the current form of the bill include:

  • Fraudulently diverting any public funds (funds belonging to the federal, state or local government) in the amount of NGN5 million (about US$33,167) or more into one's private account; and
  • Receiving any payment or revenue in the amount of NGN5 million or more on behalf of the federal, state or local government and intentionally refusing to credit such amount to the appropriate account. (Id.)

Under the bill, a public official who commits the crime of economic sabotage is, on conviction, punishable by life imprisonment. (Id.) The bill provides that as part of the punishment for committing this crime, a convict is to spend the first five years of the prison term at a mechanized farm run by the Nigerian prison system in the state where the offense was committed. (Id.)

The bill also mandates federal and state Attorneys General to establish special panels to investigate allegations of crimes of economic sabotage. These panels will include attorneys, members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, police officers, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, and members of civil society groups. (Id.)