By Egena Sunday Ode,
A whopping sum of N2.67 billion meant for school feeding to some federal government colleges during the lockdown was found in personal accounts.
Also, about N2.5 billion was discovered to have been appropriated by a senior civil servant in the ministry of Agric now deceased, for himself and cronies.
Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made this disclosure Monday in his keynote address at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy”, held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
ICPC also listed other assets recovered in the Agric ministry to include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.
According to the ICPC boss, under Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020, out of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs) 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.
Owasanoye said: “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 finding.”
According to the ICPC chairman also, 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 pointed out that 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; adding that absence of needs assessment resulted in projects recommended for communities that do not require them being abandoned; projects sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common asset to personal ownership, and denying communities of the benefit;
Owasanoye, added that 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.
The ICPC chairman said in 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.
On asset recovery, Owasanoye 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 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.
Other assets recovered include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.
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. 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.”