The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been called upon to play a more active role in addressing the transparency and accountability issues plaguing Nigeria’s defense and security sector.
The call was made by Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), during a two-day anti-corruption training session held January 10–11, 2024, in Lagos.
Speaking to representatives from various civil society groups, the media, and resource persons, Musa emphasised the urgency of the situation.
“The defense and security sector, while crucial in its mandate, faces significant challenges in transparency and accountability. This is particularly critical now as Nigeria confronts a spectrum of security threats, from insurgencies to terrorism,” he said.
Musa pointed out that despite recent reforms in the defense sector, the legacy of 33 years of military rule and a culture of exceptionalism have adversely affected transparency.
He highlighted several major corruption drivers, including shady procurement processes, excessive secrecy, inter-agency rivalry, and inflated contracts.
“These issues have not only hampered counterterrorism operations but also lowered the morale within the defense institutions,” Musa added.
He further raised concerns about high-profile corruption cases that made headlines but then disappeared without resolution. “This lack of accountability sends a wrong message and needs immediate redress,” Musa asserted.
Referencing a recent analysis, Musa revealed that over 80 percent of military personnel are deployed in internal security across the nation, with significant funds allocated to these operations.
“Despite the substantial budget, the effectiveness in the fight against insecurity is yet to meet expectations,” he noted.
The CISLAC executive director also criticised the over-weaponisation of military operations and the lack of accountability in engaging foreign private military companies. He cited a case where the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) raided a military contractor’s home, uncovering substantial amounts of money and luxury items.
Musa concluded his address by underscoring the necessity of independent oversight and immediate reform in the defense and security sector, particularly regarding financial transparency, gender inclusion, and operational disparities.
“This training, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and in collaboration with Transparency International Defence and Security Project (TI-DSP), is a step towards empowering CSOs and the media to reposition the defense and security sector for greater efficiency and transparency,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Musa urged participants to actively engage in the technical sessions of the training, highlighting their role in shaping a more transparent and accountable defense sector in Nigeria.