“Corruption’s War on the Law” is the headline on an article Project Syndicate just published. There former French magistrate and corruption fighter Eva Joly recounts the fate of those who have dared to confront powerful networks of corrupt officials and those who corrupt them. Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by accomplices of those she was investigating. So was Rwandan anti-corruption lawyer Gustave Makonene. So too was Brazilian anticorruption activist Marcelo Miguel D’Elia.
After a second attempt on his life, Nuhu Ribadu, first chair of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the country’s premier anticorruption agency, famously remarked:
“When you fight corruption, it fights back.”
In her article, Mme. Joly, who received numerous threats for investigating and ultimately convicting senior French officials for corruption, explains that violence is just one way corruption “fights back.” The most recent head of Nigeria’s EFCC was arrested and detained on trumped up charges of corruption. Ibrahim Magu has been suspended from office pending further proceedings, proceedings unlikely to be held this century.
At the same, Nigerian anticorruption activist Lanre Suraju is, as this blog reported last week, being charged with “cyberstalking” for circulating documents from a court case that implicate associates of the current Attorney General in a the massive OPL-245 corruption scandal. This form of intimidation, which Nigerians have dubbed “lawfare,” has now been exported to Europe. Italian prosecutors are being subjected to both criminal charges and administrative action for having the nerve to prosecute one of Italy’s largest companies for foreign bribery (here).
President Biden has declared the global fight against corruption to be a national priority, and he will shortly host a democracy summit where Brazil, Italy, Malta, Nigeria, and Rwanda will be represented at the highest level. Might he remind them which side of the fight they should be on?