Police officers, judges and prosecutors are the most corrupt public officials in Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics said in its latest report released yesterday.
The damning report came the same day the United Nations Office for Drug and Crimes (UNODC) released its own corruption report that said Nigeria spent N400bn annually on bribes to public officials.
The 2017 National Corruption Survey said 46.4 per cent of Nigerian citizens have had “bribery contact” with police officers, 33 per cent with prosecutors and 31.5 per cent with Judges/magistrates.
The survey, tagged ‘Corruption in Nigeria – Bribery as Experienced by the Population’ also revealed that custom officers, judges, magistrates and prosecutors were the public officials who received the largest average cash bribes. The NBS estimated the average bribe paid to Custom officers as N88, 587, Judges/magistrates as N18, 576 while Prosecutors received an average of N10, 072 as bribes from Nigerians.
The survey also listed police officers and tax/revenue officers as public officers to whom the highest number of bribes were paid. It said 29.7 per cent of all bribes are paid to police officers upon a direct request before the service is provided.
In the private sector, employees of insurance companies, teachers in private schools and doctors in private hospitals have highest bribe prevalence in Nigeria, the survey revealed.
The survey showed that 6.0 per cent of Nigerians have come in contact with bribe-seeking employees of insurance companies, 5.9 per cent with teachers in private schools and 3.7 per cent with doctors.
The survey said men pay higher bribes to public officials (37.1 per cent) than women (26.6 per cent).
The NBS also found that young Nigerians have the highest prevalence of bribery in the country as 36.4 per cent Nigerian population aged 25 to 34 years are the people with highest bribery prevalence.
Further analysis of the report showed that 37.7 per cent of people with highest prevalence of bribery have attained tertiary education with people earning N100, 000 and above as those with highest prevalence of bribery.
The highest and lowest prevalence of bribery by geographical location and sex showed that 39.5 per cent of the people are urban males while 24.9 per cent are rural women.
N400bn spent on bribes annually – UN
The 125-page UNODC titled “Corruption in Nigeria, Bribery: Public Experience and Response, July 2017” was presented to the public yesterday in Abuja.
The report also listed policemen and the judiciary as topmost on the list of bribe takers. It also said Nigerians spend 28.8 percent of their earnings on bribes.
The Head of Cooperation of the European Union (EU) Kurt Cornelis said about €30m was spent on the survey and other processes leading to the publication of the report.
Cornelis said the effort was part of the EU, UNODC and other partners to help Nigeria overcome the scourge of corruption.
The Statistician General of the Federation and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria Dr. Yemi Kale and the UNODC Nigeria Representative Cristina Albertin said the report was based on data collected in a survey of 33,067 households.
It was conducted in April and May 2016 across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
They described the study as the largest corruption survey ever conducted in Africa.
“Almost a third of Nigerian adults (32.3 percent) who had contact with a public official between June 2015 and May 2016 had to pay, or were requested to pay, a bribe to that public official.
“The majority of those who paid a bribe to a public official did so more than once a year. Bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months.
“Taking into account the fact that nine out of every 10 bribes paid into public officials in Nigeria are paid in cash and the size of the payment made, it is estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey was around N400 billion, the equivalent of $4.6 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP).
“This sum is equivalent to 39 percent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016,” the report stated.
It said by combining the total number of people who paid a bribe to a public official with the frequency of those payments, it is estimated that a total of roughly 82.3 million bribes were paid in Nigeria in 12 months prior to the survey.
This amounts to an average of 0.93 bribes per adults or one bribe paid by every adult Nigerian per year.
It also said the average sum paid as a cash bribe is approximately N5,300 equivalent to $61 PPP, or an average of 28.2 percent of the average monthly salary of approximately N18,900.
While saying that 37.1 percent of men pay bribes compare to 26.6 percent women, the report said that young adults (25 to 34 years) are more vulnerable to bribery than older age groups and also that higher level of education and income lead to greater risk of bribery.
In the ranking of bribe-takers, the report lists the Police (46.4 percent), prosecutors (33.0 percent), judges/magistrates (31.5 percent), tax/revenue officers (27.3 percent), custom officers (26.5 percent), and public utilities (22.4 percent) as the highest.
Also, the report which lists the prevalence and frequency of bribery at national level and zones with north-west topping the list and north-east, south-south, south-west, north-central and south-east following respectively,
It also lists south-west, north-central, south-south, north-west, north-east and south-east respectively where the highest numbers of bribes are paid by individuals.
The communication officer of the UNODC Mr Sylvester Tunde Atere said that the “Support to anti-corruption in Nigeria” project involved 14 anti-corruption agencies and 10 civil society organisations (CSOs) grantees.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecutions, Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla while reacting to the survey especially that it was conducted in the first year of the present administration said the survey is not an indictment.
He said the amount and other figures involve does not indicate that the anti-corruption war of President Buhari is not working.
He also blamed the judiciary for the low successes recorded in the fight against corruption.
“The judiciary has not demonstrated enough commitment to the ongoing war on corruption. That is why the judges who were accused of corrupt practices were re-instated to their jobs by the judiciary, without recourse to morality.
“Though many of them were exonerated after due trial, but for the fact that they had faced charges of corruption, they should have been excused from the bench,” Obono-Obla said.
While thumping-up the current administration for the efforts at tackling corruption and recovering looted funds, saying through the law on forfeiture, the federal government last week, took possession of $437 million belonging to a looter, who is on the run. He did not name the person involved.