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Cablegate: Icpc Feels Us Looking Over Its Shoulder

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 001074

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCOR EFIN NI
SUBJECT: ICPC FEELS US LOOKING OVER ITS SHOULDER

REF: ABUJA 979 AND 974

1. (SBU) Summary: The Independent Corrupt Practices and
Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), charged with
investigating and prosecuting government corruption, has had
limited success: dozens of cases filed, many against rather
senior officials; no convictions to date. Under pressure
from US Embassy Abuja, ICPC is publicly acknowledging the
need to show results. End Summary.

------------------------------
608 Cases, Only 34 Go to Court
------------------------------

2. (U) Since its inception in June 2000, the ICPC has
received 1270 allegations and referred 608 of those to its
investigations department. No action was taken on many of
these until 2003, when constitutional challenges to ICPC's
mandate were resolved. The status of these 608 cases is as
follows, according to an ICPC activities report:

34 Cases charged in court
64 Cases referred to prosecution dept.
8 Cases fully investigated, yet to be prosecuted
60 Cases currently under investigation
194 Cases at planning stage
125 Cases referred to other enforcement body
133 Cases on which investigation is yet to commence
--- -----
608 Total

--------------------
Pressure for Results
--------------------

3. (U) Poloff attended a two-day ICPC public conference in
Lokoja, Kogi State, on June 3-4, the goal of which was to
prepare a strategic plan for the ICPC. Poloff asked ICPC
Chairman Justice M. M. Akanbi on June 3 about the status of
the ministerial corruption prosecution (reftels), for which
charges had been withdrawn on June 2. Akanbi said he thought
charges would be re-filed, but would find out from his
prosecution staff. Poloff pressed Akanbi on this case,
stating that ICPC's ability to achieve results in
high-profile cases would be critical to its credibility.

4. (SBU) On June 4, during workshop sessions, Akanbi
approached Poloff to ask to step outside the conference room.
Akanbi gave a detailed explanation of the reason the
ministerial corruption charges had been withdrawn on June 2
(a legal technicality revolving around the death of one of
the original defendants), along with an extensive update of
the re-filing of charges on June 3. Akanbi repeatedly said
that he understood how important this high-profile case is,
since the whole world is watching to see if ICPC can produce
results.

5. (U) On June 16, Poloff attended an ICPC event held in
honor of "First National Anti-Corruption Week" at its
headquarters in Abuja. Akanbi opened the session by reading
a speech to the audience of about 100-120 journalists. He
departed from his prepared speech text at one point to refer
to the ICPC's high-profile prosecutions and the need to show
results: "The whole world is watching; that is why our
friend from the US Embassy is here."

8. (SBU) After the press conference concluded, the ICPC's
Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tukur Ingawa, approached Poloff to
make an appointment for Akanbi and Ingawa to brief Poloff
about the status of all pending high-profile prosecutions
(septel).

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) The Embassy's repeated inquiries are beginning to
put pressure on the ICPC to show results. The Embassy will
continue to attend high-profile trials and talk with ICPC
officials regularly. At the same time, the Embassy will use
its membership in the G-8 Transparency/Anticorruption Working
Group (GETAWG) in Abuja to develop strategies for additional
efforts with other diplomatic missions to influence the
course of events so the ICPC sees such interest as broader
than the USG alone.
CAMPBELL

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