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#BringBackOurGirls can’t overcome Nigeria graft

A U.S. State Department official said corruption is hurting Nigeria’s efforts to end the insurgency in the north east that’s now destabilizing the entire country.

Sarah Sewall, left, the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that security forces “must overcome entrenched corruption and incompetence for it to rescue the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14,” a report by Punch said.

Nigeria budgeted $5.8 billion for security for 2014, Sewall said.

But “corruption prevents supplies as basic as bullets and transport vehicles from reaching the front lines of the struggle against Boko Haram.”

Nigeria ranks 144 (our of 177) on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Billions in public funds are missing and presumed stolen by crooked pols, including nearly $7 billion in fuel subsidies.

Police corruption is one of the country’s biggest problems. A report by Human Rights Watch detailed institutionalized graft at every level of the country’s law enforcement and criminal justice system.

The 2010 report said “high-level police officials embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations. Senior police officers also enforce a perverse system of ‘returns’ in which rank-and-file officers are compelled to pay up the chain of command a share of the money they extort from the public.”

At the House Committee hearing last week, Sewal said desertions were common among underpaid and poorly equipped soldiers in the 7th Army Division that was sent to fight the insurgents.

At a security summit hosted by French President Francois Hollande in Paris Saturday, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan called Boko Haram the “al Qaeda of West Africa.”

At the U.S. hearings last week, Committee chair Ed Royce (R-CA) said being trained by al Qaeda “meant greater terror for Nigerians, and greater challenges for the security forces.”

Around 80 U.S. troops are reported to be in Chad to support the effort to rescue the abducted schoolgirls.

The troops are mainly from Air Force crews who operate “unarmed Predator surveillance drones,” Punch said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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