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Three former Nigeria state governors arrested for fraud

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) [official website] arrested three former governors of Nigerian states on Thursday for allegedly embezzling 101 billion naira (USD $615M). Officials arrested [Nigerian Observer report] former Ogun state governor Gbenga Daniel, former Oyo state governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and former Nasarawa state governor Ali Akwe Doma for interrogation purposes. The arrests were in response to petitions filed by citizens to EFCC alleging [BBC report] that the former leaders abused state contracts and used government money for personal purposes. The ex-governors are expected to be in court within the next few days.

In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that corruption in the Nigerian government has become endemic and criticized the EFCC for ineffective practices, including slow-moving trials and small sentences. Earlier in August, the Nigerian Ebonyi State Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Ben Igwenyi, called for the establishment of a special court to hear corruption cases [JURIST report]. He argued that corruption cases in the regular courts take too long to process, causing people to forget about them and perpetuating the appearance of corruption in the government. He proposed merging the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) [official website], which investigates corruption, and the EFCC to form an anti-corruption court. Corruption remains a problem in Nigeria as the EFCC arrested [JURIST report] outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole in June on allegations of fraud. He is believed to have secured a USD $ 66 million loan on top of his normal salary. In March, HRW and the Nigerian Bar Association [association website] called for Nigeria's National Assembly to pass legislation creating a special electoral offenses commission [statement; JURIST report] tasked with investigating and prosecuting election-related abuses, including violence. In 2006, then Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar was charged with more than a dozen counts of corruption [JURIST report] in the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a special corruption court that has the power to strip elected officials of immunity. The charges were related to the alleged diversion of $125 million dollars of public money to private interests, as well as allegations of receiving more than $4.6 million dollars in bribes.

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