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Niger Opposition Leader Doubts Graft Probe

  • Peter Clottey

The head of the junta in Niger, Major Salou Djibo, who took over in a February 18, 2010 coup that toppled President Mamadou Tandja, 24 Feb 2010 (file photo)

The head of the junta in Niger, Major Salou Djibo, who took over in a February 18, 2010 coup that toppled President Mamadou Tandja, 24 Feb 2010 (file photo)

A leading member of Niger’s main opposition party is expressing skepticism about the effectiveness of a new commission tasked by the military junta to investigate graft and recover funds allegedly stolen under previous administrations.

Iro Sani, communications director of the Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya), said previous investigations have ended up as mere public relations exercises that failed to achieve their intended objectives.

“We were a little surprised because we know that it’s not the first time that such a commission has been created in our country and, until now, no result has been attained. So, we are really skeptic(al) about what the result of this commission is going to be,” he said.

Analysts say the commission to investigate corruption in high places forms part of the junta’s promise to weed out graft following allegations of financial crimes under deposed President Mamadou Tandja.

Close associates of former President Tandja have often been accused of abuse of office and graft. But, supporters of the former leader say the accusations are without merit.

Opposition leader Sani said the junta has not guaranteed the effectiveness of the financial commission.

“There are several means to reach certain objectives, but they chose to create a commission like this. We hope that it will work, but we just observed that it has been tried once (before) and it didn’t get result(s) satisfying to the people of Niger,” Sani said.

The junta said in statement that it will be required to recover stolen state funds and come up with recommendations on how to clean up management.

According to the junta, the commission comprises 40 soldiers, tax experts and accountants.

Abdul Kamardine, a rights activist in Niger’s capital, Niamey, said reaction has been mixed following the setting up of the financial commission.

Soma analysts say the junta does not have the mandate to carry out such investigations, which they said should be undertaken by a constitutional government.

Opposition leader Sani said the junta did not consult any of the political parties before setting up the commission to investigate corruption and recover stolen government funds.

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