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09.02.2009 Business & Finance

Corruption fuels violence in country, experts

By AllAfrica

Coventry Cathedral, a United Kingdom based group specialised in conflict resolution, has identified the plundering of the Nigerian economy through misallocation of funds, which has rendered essential development projects obsolete and others dysfunctional, as the major cause of violence and unrest across Nigeria.

The group in a report titled: 'The Potential for Peace and Reconciliation in the Niger Delta', scheduled for release today stated that rampant corruption had destroyed respect for social order and a desire for peace at many levels.

"At a community and inter-community level, suspicion and tension emerging from (often oil industry related) corruption has become an important conflict driver," the report stated.

The report explained that in many instances traditional social and cultural practices had been perverted to support the quest for power through violent means.

According to the group, corruption and collusion with criminals in the national and state security forces renders law enforcement agencies largely ineffective in dealing with issues such as illegal oil bunkering.

"The militia activity could not flourish without corruption which is endemic in all aspects of Nigerian society, government and the private sector.

"In the judiciary, political interference and bribery reduces people's confidence in the courts and legal system," the Coventry Cathedral report said.

"Corruption within government, NGOs, and oil companies prevents the delivery of approved funds for infrastructure and community development from reaching their intended target groups. As such it maintains the poverty, societal inequality, and inequity in resource distribution that fuels conflict," it added.

According to the report, a sustained attack on corruption with successful prosecutions and sentences that fit the crimes is required to break the nexus of illegal arms, oil theft, money laundering.