Nigerian Army Orders Officers to Declare Assets in Corruption Clampdown

Soldiers march during the inauguration of Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015. The head of Nigeria’s army has ordered all officers to declare their assets in a bid to improve transparency. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

The head of Nigeria's army has ordered all officers to declare their assets in a bid to improve transparency.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made tackling corruption a focus of his leadership. Recent high-ranking military figures have been implicated in Buhari's anti-corruption drive, including former national security advisor and retired colonel Sambo Dasuki and ex-Nigerian defense minister Bello Haliru Mohammed. The former is accused of stealing $2 billion worth of government funds earmarked for purchasing arms to fight Boko Haram, while the latter is alleged to have laundered some $1.5 million of arms money. Both deny the charges against them.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, issued the demand on Thursday. All Nigerian military officers have "presidential commission and are public servants" and should be "one of the key drivers" of Buhari's anti-corruption drive, said a statement from Nigerian army spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman. The statement also said that Buratai publicly declared his assets upon his appointment as leader of the Nigerian army in July 2015.

On January 15, Buhari ordered Nigeria's anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to investigate 20 retired and serving military officials over alleged arms procurement fraud between 2007 and 2015. These include the former chief of defense staff, Alex Sabundu Badeh, and two ex-commanders of the Nigerian air force, Mohammed Dikko Umar and Adesola Amosu. Buhari has also ordered 20 companies be investigated.

Following his election in March 2015, Buhari pledged to recover billions of dollars lost due to endemic government corruption. Nigeria's Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Monday that 55 people—including government ministers and bankers—had stolen 1.34 trillion naira ($6.7 billion) between 2006 and 2013.

A December 2015 report by Transparency International found that 75 percent of Nigerians believed that corruption had increased in the country's government over the previous 12 months.