CORRUPTION AND ECONOMIC CRIMES IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR OF NIGERIA
2.1 DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION AND ECONOMIC CRIMES
According to section 2 of the I.C.P.C Act (2000), corruption simply connotes impropriety and encompasses all forms of reprehensible, indecorous, and infamous conduct in the performance of some official and non – officials responsibilities. This means any act, which goes out of any normal societal behavior. According to Nye, J.S. (1967), Corruption is a behavior, which deviates from the formal duties of a public role, because of private (gains) – regarding (personal, close family, private clique, pecuniary or status gains). It is behavior, which violates rules against the exercise of certain types of duties for private gains – regarding influence. Banfield (1961) says that corruption includes such behavior as bribery (use of a reward to prevent the judgment of a person in a position of trust; nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reasons of ascriptive relationship rather than merit); and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private uses. Corruption is the efforts to secure wealth or power through illegal means private gain at public expense; or a misuse of public power for private benefit. (Lipset and Lenz 2000). According to Gboyega (1965), “Corruption and Democratization in Nigeria”, Corruption involves the giving or taking of a bribe, or illegal acquisition of wealth using the resources of a public office, including the exercise of discretion”. Section 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission defines economic crimes to means, “the non – violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objective of earning wealth illegally either individually or in a group or organized manner thereby violating existing legislation governing economic activities of government and its administration and includes any form of fraud, narcotic drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, looting and any form of corrupt practices, illegal arms deal, smuggling, human trafficking and child labor, illegal oil bunkering and illegal mining, tax evasion, foreign exchange malpractice including counterfeiting currency, theft of intellectual property and piracy, open market abuse, dumping of toxic and prohibited goods, etc. Okolie, A.O (2006) described economic crimes as the manifestation of a criminal act done either solely or in an organized manner with or without associates or groups with an intent to earn wealth through illegal means, carrying out illicit activities which violate the laws of the land and other regulatory statutory provisions governing the economic activities of the government and administration.
2.2 HISTORY/TREND OF CORRUPTION AND ECONOMIC CRIMES IN NIGERIA The origin of corruption in Nigeria predates our political independence. The evidence of this fact derives from the allusion to the following statements. For instance, “on February 26, 1952, the Emir of Gwandu moved the following motion in the Northern House of Chiefs: “That this House, agreeing that bribery and corruption are widely prevalent in all walks of life recommends that Native Authorities should make every effort to trace and punish offenders with strict impartiality and to educate public opinion against bribery and corruption” (Adebayo, A. (1986). Eleven years later, Ronald Wealth and Edgar Simpkins (1963) were able to observe that “in Africa, corruption flourishes as luxuriantly as the bush and the weeds which it so much resembles, taking the goodness from the soil and suffocating the growth of the plants which have been carefully and expensively bred and tended. The forces ranged against it are negligence”. The corruption now prevalent in Nigeria today has grown beyond imagination and to a degree, which boggles the mind. Corruption is a common word and has become part of everyday usage. Since 1966, various dispensations (democratic or military) in Nigeria, at one time or the other, embraced one form of scheme, strategy, or program directed at curbing the menace or consequences of corruption.
2.3 TYPES OF ECONOMIC CRIMES Economic crimes are indeed a serious threat to the public sector and therefore a threat to the nation since the public sector is the heart of the nation. The existence and prosperity of a nation can be held to ransom by the activities of economic crimes perpetration. Some forms of economic crime are advance fee fraud, fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement of government funds; these are explained below. 2.3.1 ADVANCE FEE FRAUD Advance fee fraud is a criminal offense defined and punishable under section 419 of the Nigeria criminal code. Statutory section 419 of the criminal code of Nigeria provides thus any person who by any false pretense and with the intent to defraud, obtain from any other person anything capable of being stolen is guilty of felony and is liable to 3 years imprisonment. The scam popularly known as “419” was initially subsumed under the category of criminal offenses which have described as “obtained under false pretense” but now it under the EFCC Act. Syndicates as it is widely known outside our borders initiate the scam with members in different parts of the world strategically located to implement their different tasks. Though there are many variations, which are constantly been adapted to change some inherent elements of advance fee fraud in the public sector, and they are: