The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has advised the Nigerian government to ensure public officials do not engage in unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry, following new reports on how British American Tobacco (BAT) Plc. ran a mass surveillance operation and informant network in South Africa and made questionable payments to the tune of $600,000 to many individuals in 10 African countries.
Threports, released September 13, 2021, were based on analyses of whistleblower documents and court records by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and published by STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog.
The investigation allegedly connected BAT to hand-delivered cash, cars, per diems and campaign donations to dozens of politicians, civil servants, journalists as well as people working at competitor companies. The payments may have helped secure influence on health policies in key African countries. Documents also provide evidence that suggests, in South Africa, BAT hired private contractors, under the pretense of anti-smuggling efforts, to carry out military-style surveillance and operations to disrupt its competitors.
In reaction to the report, CAPPA said “the findings are not at all surprising” because they confirm the organizations’ long-standing position that the tobacco industry will do everything to compromise systems and thwart tobacco control in Africa.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “The weighty allegation against BAT sends a very disturbing signal and should compel the Nigerian government to investigate the company’s public facing engagements and activities in Nigeria which prominently features government officials”
Oluwafemi explained that, with the alleged findings, it is now time to beam the searchlight on other parts of Africa, particularly Nigeria where the tobacco giant controls the largest share of the tobacco products market. Read More >>