How ICPC recovered N18.5 billion from Agric Ministry – Chairman

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The chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said Monday that the commission has recovered N16 billion paid into individual accounts and for non-official purposes from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption, the ICPC chairman said the commission also discovered over N2.5 billion appropriated by a deceased senior civil servant in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for himself and cronies.

He said the Also covered payments to Agric contractors for no job done or over payment 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.

He said the commission had also unearthed how N2.67 billion payment made to some federal colleges for feeding programmes during lockdown when children are not in school ended up in personal accounts.
The ICPC chairman also listed other assets recovered in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.
He said under the Open Treasury Portal Review carried out between January and August 15, 2020, out of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs), 72 of them had cumulative infractions of N90 billion.
He said while 33 MDAs tendered explanations that N4.1 billion was transferred to sub-TSA, N4.2 billion paid to 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 lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings.

“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. These 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,” he said.

The ICPC chairman said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects were tracked across 16 states of the federation.
He said a number of projects described as ongoing in the budget were found to be new projects that ought to have been excluded in order to enable the government complete existing projects.
He said the commission also discovered that the absence of needs assessment resulted in projects recommended for communities that do not require them being abandoned; projects sited in private houses and on private land thus appropriating common asset to personal use, hence denying communities of the benefit; absence of synergy between outgoing project sponsors and their successors.
He said the commission also found that 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.
The ICPC chairman said in the education sector, 78 MDAs were reviewed and common cases of misuse of funds were uncovered.
Some of the discoveries include life payment of bulk sums to individuals/staff accounts, including project funds; non-deductions/remittance of taxes and IGR; payments of unapproved allowances, bulk payment to micro finance banks, payment of arrears of salary and other allowances of previous years from 2020 budget, payment of salary advance to staff, under-deduction of PAYE and payment of promotion arrears due to surplus in Personnel Cost, abuse and granting of cash advances above the approved threshold and irregular payment of allowances to principal officers.

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