ICPC Uncovers N20bn Project Duplication, Personnel Budget Fraud in MDAs – Owasanoye

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission, ICPC, has uncovered gross abuse of personnel budget as well as duplication of projects by some federal ministries, departments, and agencies, MDAs amounting to over N20.138 billion.

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Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, chairman of ICPC, disclosed this at the 3rd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Service in Abuja with the theme ‘Corruption and the Cost of Governance: New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency.’

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“The money was discovered through the agency’s projects tracking initiative, designed to ensure accountability and transparency in the conception, execution, and management of public-funded projects,” ICPC chairman said.

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According to him, the anomaly was rectified when the commission drew the attention of the minister of finance.

“The third phase of the exercise, 1083 projects across the entire country were recorded with exception of Borno and Zamfara due to security challenges.

“The exercise verified implementation of executive and zip projects of legislators.

“We have so far initiated enforcement actions against 67 contractors and forced them back to site and ensured completion of 966 projects worth N310 billion, some of which were hitherto abandoned.

“Our findings indicate that the same malady of corruption afflicts executive as well as zip projects thus undermining government projections, escalating the cost of governance, and denying Nigeria value for money,” he said.

He said that these maladies include: poor needs assessment that disconnects projects from beneficiaries; false certification of uncompleted contracts as completed.

“Also, deliberate underperformance of contracts, incessant criminal diversion and conversion of public property by civil servants.

“Other challenges relate to duplication of projects in the budget.

“ICPC review discovered that 257 projects amounting to N20.138 billion were duplicated in the 2021 budget leading us to submit an advisory to the minister of finance which was promptly actioned by the minister to prevent abuse,” Owasanoye said.

The ICPC boss further explained that the agency investigated some cases of illegal recruitment forwarded to it by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, saying that the outcome of the investigation has far implicated the ministry of labour and the University College Hospital Ibadan and a number of corrupt staff of other MDAs at a lower level.

“At another level, a syndicate of corrupt individuals within the service corruptly employ unsuspecting Nigerians, issue them fake letters of employment, and fraudulently enroll them on IPPIS.

“Such innocent Nigerians were equally posted to MDAs to commence work.

“ICPC is prosecuting one of the leaders of the syndicate from whose custody we retrieved several fake letters of recommendation purportedly signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Ministers, Federal Civil Service Commission, and other high-ranking Nigerians.

“This abuse of power is consummated with the complicity of compromised elements in IPPIS. These cases are currently under investigation,” he said.

He, however, advised the government to invest more in prevention and behaviour change strategies alongside law and order measures to fight corruption.

“This is important if we are to maximise the gains of prevention and the wisdom that prevention is better than cure.

“ICPC in collaboration with development partners notably, Ford Foundation for Illicit Financial Flows, IFFs, and MacArthur Foundation for behaviour change is putting more attention to these areas in the months ahead,” he added.

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