N2.67bn school feeding funds found in private accounts –ICPC
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday, said it uncovered that N2.67 billion meant for the school feeding programme in some federal government colleges during COVID-19 lockdown ended up in personal accounts.
The anti-graft agency also said it discovered that over N2.5 billion was appropriated by a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture (now deceased) for himself and cronies. It also listed other assets recovered in the agric ministry to include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.
Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the disclosure, yesterday, in his address at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy” at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said under Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January and August 15, it found that of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs), 72 had cumulative infractions of N90 million.
He said while 33 MDAs tendered explanations that N4.1 billion was transferred to sub-TSA, about N4.2 billion paid into the accounts of some individuals had no satisfactory explanations.
“We observed that transfers to sub-TSA was to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67 billion during the lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these finding.”
The ICPC chairman also said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N100 million (490 ZiP and 232 executive) was tracked across 16 states.
He said the commission recovered N16 billion from Ministry of Agriculture paid into individual accounts for non-official purposes.
Also covered were payments to agric contractors for no job done or overpayment for jobs done, appropriation of projects to private farms of senior civil servants of the ministry. It also discovered N2.5 billion appropriated by an individual (now deceased) for himself and cronies.
The ICPC chairman said in education sector, 78 MDAs were reviewed and common cases of misuse of funds were uncovered.
Owasanoye said the commission also found uncompleted projects sponsored by legislators who do not return get abandoned to the loss of the community and the state; use of companies owned by sponsor’s friends or relatives or companies belonging to civil servants in implementing MDAs to execute projects which are abandoned or poorly performed; conspiracy between legislative aides of sponsors and implementing MDAs and contractors to undermine quality of project without knowledge of the sponsor; vague project description that result in diversion of funds by implementing MDAs or project sponsor with collusion of contractors and absence of community ownership of project because they were not consulted or largely ignorant of projects allocated to them.
“We have restrained or recovered by administrative or court interim and final orders assets above N3 billion, facilitated recovery of $173,000 by the whistle blower unit of FMFB&P from an erring oil company, retrained £160,000 in a UK-bank in an ongoing interim forfeiture. This figures exclude quantum of recoveries on return or contractors to site as a result of projects tracking initiatives. It should however be noted that some of these assets are subjected to ongoing cases and where suspects proved their cases physical or liquid assets will be released in accordance with laid down laws, guidelines or court directives.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that his administration was determined to end the menace of corruption in all sectors.
He, therefore, called for a stronger collaboration among the three tiers of government to help kill corruption in the country.
“As military Head of State, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their office or misused public funds to account. Furthermore, I introduced the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), one of whose cardinal objectives was promotion of our cherished culture of ethical conduct, integrity and hard work.
“I recognied in 1984 as I do even more now that corruption poses a clear danger to Nigeria, so, we cannot relent in efforts to eradicate it from our society. As I have often reminded Nigerians, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
“In my inaugural speech in 2015, I affirmed the determination of this administration to rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and serviceable. I charged public servants to apply themselves with integrity to stabilise the system and solicited the cooperation of the Legislative arm to maintain their brief of making laws and carrying out oversight functions.
“We must all join hands together to fight corruption and return to our traditional values of honesty and integrity. I hereby use the opportunity of this Summit to launch the National Ethics and Integrity Policy as a fresh roadmap to return Nigeria to these critical national values.”
The president, who underscored the significance of establishing the ICPC, also called for a reform of the country’s judiciary, to boost the fight against corruption.
“This year marks two significant hallmarks in the history of our country. A few days from now, we will, by the grace of God, be celebrating Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary as an independent sovereign nation. This summit also commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). The Commission emerged as part of the measures that successive administrations in Nigeria have put in place over the years to fight corruption.
“In my inaugural speech in 2015, I called for the reform of the judicial system and for the judiciary to act with dispatch in cases, especially cases on corruption, serious financial crimes and abuse of office.
“I believe that it is when the three arms and the three levels of government work together that government will be enabled to serve the country. We will also see the positive impact of our efforts reaching all and sundry across the country.”