Nigerian President Creates Committee to Drive Anti-Graft Agenda

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari created a committee to look at how to fight corruption, an issue he placed as a top priority during his election campaign.

The seven-member group will advise Buhari’s government on moving forward with the “war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system,” said Femi Adesina, a spokesman for the presidency, in an e-mailed statement on Monday.

Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan in a March presidential election after promising to tackle graft in the country, which ranked 136th out of 175 nations in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index. As part of that drive, he’s overhauling the state oil company, an institution the country’s transparency watchdog estimates has diverted $30 billion since 2009. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer.

The anti-graft committee will be led by Itse Sagay, a former dean of the faculty of law at the University of Benin. Its other members include academics such as Femi Odekunle, a professor of criminology at Ahmadu Bello University in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria. The Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundation have created a $5 million fund to support the committee, Adesina said.

Buhari, who took office in May, asked the Finance Ministry on Monday to explain why a $1 billion Chinese loan for a rail line was redirected to other projects.

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