The project Support to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Judiciary is a 24.7 Million Euro project, primarily funded by the European Union under the 9th European Development Fund. The ongoing project, which was launched in 2006 and, after two extensions will be completed in 2010, is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The project supported the EFCC which was set up in 2003 by the Nigerian Government with the mandate to prevent and combat economic and financial crimes, in the crucial phase of institution building. Specific project interventions include the strengthening of the operational capacities of the agency, including the provision of specialized training for staff and management, the delivery of basic operational equipment, the building of the EFCC’s Training and Research Institute, as well as the creation of a forensic laboratory and the mentoring of its staff (insert press release on forensic laboratory) The project has also provided the EFCC with a state-of the-art IT system and helped in developing and implementing custom-made specialized database applications including - goAML, goIDM and goCASE as well as ADAMN used in case-management, financial intelligence analysis and donor coordination. Moreover, the project assisted the agency in policy, advocacy and outreach through the conduct of several assessments of corruption (Click here for copy of Business Survey on Crime & Corruption and Awareness of EFCC in Nigeria), the development of a national anti-corruption strategy, the establishment of a national network of civil society organisations advocating for the fight against corruption and governance reforms, as well as the development of specialized non-conviction based asset forfeiture legislation aimed to further enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement action against corruption.
The project has also assisted the Nigerian Judiciary and other justice sector stakeholders in the strengthening of integrity and capacity of the justice system at the Federal level and within 10 Nigerian States. Working in cooperation with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in this regard the project has helped to prepare the ground for several reform policies primarily focusing on improving governance, accountability and transparency of justice sector institutions. A large scale assessment of justice sector integrity and capacity was carried out providing baseline data allowing for the measuring of progress in the various areas of reform (click here for assessments). The data was also used in the development of action plans at state level (Click here for state action plans)- aimed to enhance access to justice, in particular by prisoners awaiting trial, to improve speed and quality of justice delivery, and to build the confidence of court users (click here to view/download court user guides) by increasing accountability, integrity, impartiality and independence of the courts. Subsequently, the implementation of these action plans was supported through policy and technical advisory services, training, and the provision of equipment. A monitoring exercise of the implementation of these plans is ongoing. (Insert monitoring missions’ press release). The project has also helped build the operational capacity, efficiency and performance of the justice sector by jointly funding Judicial Research Centres (JRC) with the pilot state governments. (click here for JRC folder). Five years into implementation, the project has been able to aid national counterpart institutions in making significant achievements. (Insert click here for more information on the achievements of the project). The project is on course in achieving its various outputs and the activities will be finalized in November 2010. A handing over period to the beneficiary is ongoing in order to enhance the local ownership and ensure sustainability.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PROJECT
Five years into implementation, the project has been able to aid national counterpart institutions in making significant achievements. To date, the EFCC has received more than 5000 petitions and achieved more than 400 convictions. Even more impressively, a 6.5 Billion US $ of criminal proceeds have been recovered. At the political level, Nigeria was removed by the FATF from the list of non cooperating countries and territories. Subsequently formal monitoring of Nigeria’s compliance with the 40+9 FATF recommendations was ended and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit was admitted to join the Egmont Group. As a whole, Nigeria’s standing against several global governance indicators, such as the Global Corruption Barometer and the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International as well as the World Bank Governance Indicators has consistently improved. Moreover, EFCC enjoys a high level of acceptance among Nigerian citizens with 72% of respondents to a public perception survey conducted by the project in 2009 confirming that “EFCC meets my expectations fully or partially”.
Regarding the justice sector, the assessment conducted in 2007/08 with the assistance of the project confirmed impressive improvements made in the period 2002 - 2007. More specifically, the justice system had become significantly more accessible, with the average time prisoners had to spend in remand reducing from 30 months in 2002 to less than 12 months in 2007. Improved had also the general awareness of prisoners with regard to bail with 68% of the respondents being aware of their right to apply for bail in 2007, as opposed to only 43% in 2002. Prisoners, moreover, had better access to legal assistance, with 56% being represented by a lawyer as opposed to only 38% in 2002. Similar progress could be registered with regard to timeliness and quality of justice delivery.
The number of months that it had taken court users on average to resolve their legal matters had reduced from 27 months in 2002 to a little over 12 months in 2007. Improved had also the administrative systems of the courts, with 87% of judicial officers finding the record-keeping efficient or very efficient, as opposed to only 44% sharing this opinion in 2002. As concerns the prevalence of corrupt practices, in 2002, 77% of lawyers and 43% of court users claimed that within the last 12 months prior to the interview they had been approached for the payment of a bribe in the context of a court case. When these stakeholders were asked the same question in 2007, only 16% of the lawyers and only 2% of the court users admitted that they had been approached for the payment of a bribe. With regard to the independence, impartiality and fairness of the courts, 19% of the judges felt that judicial appointments were politically influenced and not based on merit, while 50% of the lawyers claimed to know of judicial decisions that had been inspired by politics. However, in 2007 findings seemed to suggest that judicial independence had been strengthened with 24% of lawyers stating that they were aware of a judicial decision during the last 12 months which in their opinion had been influenced by politics, and 8% of judicial officers claiming to be aware of a judicial appointment having been influenced by political considerations rather than merit.
Collectively all of these improvements have helped to enhance public confidence in the justice system. In 2007 the percentage of court users who stated that they had not used the courts during the last two years despite a need to do so had reduced from 42% in 2002 to 36% in 2007. At the same time, those court users who indicated that they would use the courts again based on their experience increased from 58% in 2002 to 69% in 2007.