The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission says it has uncovered the diversion of part of the N2.67 billion payments made to some Federal Colleges for school feeding during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19.
The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stated this at the 2nd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption, with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.”
Owasanoye said preliminary investigation had indicated that part of the N2.67 billion was diverted to private accounts.
The event, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, was held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
The ICPC boss said: “We observed that transfer to sub-Treasury Single Account 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 were not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts.
“We have commenced investigations into these finding.”
Owasanoye also revealed that over N2.5 billion was misappropriated by a senior civil servant (name withheld) in the Ministry of Agriculture, who is now deceased, for himself and cronies.
The chairman also listed other assets recovered in the Ministry of Agriculture 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, 72 of them had cumulative infractions of N90 million.
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.
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 of the federation.
He noted 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 government complete exiting projects.
According to him, 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.
He also frowned at the 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.
The ICPC chairman condemned what he described as conspiracy between legislative aides of sponsors and implementing MDAs and contractors to undermine quality of projects without knowledge of the sponsor.
The ICPC chairman said in the education sector, 78 MDAs were reviewed and common cases of misuse of funds were uncovered.
Owasanoye said: “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; and bulk payment to micro finance banks.”
He said other discoveries are: “Unapproved 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.”
On asset recovery, Owasanoye said the commission recovered N16 billion from the Ministry of Agriculture, paid into individual accounts for non-official purposes.
He said the commission also recovered payments to some contractors at the Ministry of Agriculture for no job done or over payment for jobs done as well as appropriation of projects to private farms of senior civil servants of the ministry.
He said: “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.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that goodwill messages from the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and United Nations Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon, were delivered at the event.
Kallon particularly said the level of transparency in fighting corruption under President Buhari was “unequivocal”.