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Corruption Fight Suffers Setback In Nigeria

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, centre, stands outside his house guarded by policemen in Yenagoa, Nigeria, in this file photo dated November 27, 2005.

In Nigeria, corruption has been a particular problem.

While corruption and government mismanagement know no nationality, it is also true that in this some countries suffer more than others. In Nigeria, it has been a particular problem, with vast revenues from oil and other resources periodically diverted from public good to private gain.

Corruption Fight Suffers Setback In Nigeria
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The United States and others in the international community in recent years have worked with Nigeria’s leaders and civil society to help establish systems and protections to curb corruption both in government and private industry. It was a disappointment then to learn two former corrupt government officials received official pardons for their crimes.

Among the officials were Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of one of the country’s oil-rich states, and Shettima Bulama, who served as managing director of a failed bank. Mr. Alamieyeseigha is believed to have embezzled about $55 million and used it to buy homes and other property around the world. Arrested in London, he jumped bail and fled to Nigeria, where he was arrested again and convicted of failing to declare his assets.

A government spokesman explained the pardons saying that the men had been sufficiently punished for their actions and Mr. Alamieyeseigha in particular has been playing a role behind the scenes to stabilize the Niger Delta region, which has been roiled by a separatist movement. Civil society and other groups have protested the actions, saying it appears the government is condoning financial crimes.

The United States is also disappointed in the pardons. They are a setback in Nigeria’s fight against corruption, and to its efforts to develop effective legal institutions and promote respect for the rule of law.