From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has said it uncovered and recovered the sum of N1.264 billion diversion of tax and other statutory revenues as part of routine investigations in its support of government’s effort to improve revenue generation in the country.
The agency also stated that in order to differentiate between outright fraud and administrative errors, it met with some Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to discuss recurring surpluses in their payroll in order to determine proactive measures to improve the budget process. As a result, it discovered soft projects worth more than N7 billion for a catchment population of about a million people under the guise of empowerment and another instance of a successful increase in an agency’s budget. It added that both cases done by Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) are under investigation.
Chairman of ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, made the disclosure at the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The event, with the theme: ‘Corruption and the Education Sector’, was jointly organised by the ICPC, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
He said: “As is now widely publicised, ICPC has intensified its scrutiny of personnel and capital cost of MDAs leading to proactive restraining of surpluses or duplications in the budget. Just last week the Commission in collaboration with the Budget Office and stakeholders met with some MDAs on the recurring surpluses in their payroll to determine proactive measures to improving the budget process.
“This is towards separating outright fraud from administrative lapses. We also actively reviewed the budget to prevent abuse by senior civil servants and PEPs who sometimes personalise budgetary allocation for direct benefit. In one case, a PEP successfully increased the budget of an agency in order for the agency to buy a property from him. In another case, the PEP inserted soft projects worth over N7b for a catchment population of about one million people in the name of empowerment. Both cases are under investigation.”
The head of the ICPC said that among other things, the commission was assiduously working to root out phoney appointments and scrutinise candidates for appointments to positions of permanent secretaries.
He noted that investigation results showed that numerous potential nominees are linked to financial misconduct, dishonest behaviour, breach of code of conduct, and substance misuse.
Owasanoye applauded the commitment of the Head of Service to clean up the stable by effective pre-appointment screening, noting that the ICPC would continue to play its part.
He said the commission was particularly delighted that Chief Superintendent Amah who was conferred with the prestigious 2022 public service integrity award for rejecting a $200,000 bribe from robbers, is from the Nigeria Police, an institution often derided, maligned and underappreciated.
Amah who was conferred the award by President Buhari is the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Nasarawa Division in Kano State.
At the event, former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, while giving his keynote address, expressed concern that Nigeria is regarded as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.
He asserted that the repercussions of corruption in the education sector limit the ability of the country to build the necessary social capital for socioeconomic growth and that no country can advance without making enough and wise investments in education.
He bemoaned that corruption from both the education sector itself and the larger public sector, as well as neglect, chronic underfunding, and crisis has all plagued Nigeria’s educational system.