Illicit Financial Flows Worst Form Of Corruption, Says ICPC Boss

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye has described illicit financial flows as the most egregious form of corruption in Nigeria.

Professor Owasanoye said this at a media roundtable on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy held in Lagos recently.

He said, ” I am aware that the general perception is that looting by politically exposed persons is the most egregious, but I have news for you, it is not. It represents less than 30% of the loses of capital in developing countries, including Nigeria. A lot of money is lost through illicit financial flows.’’

ICPC, he said, is looking at Illicit Financial flows, because ‘’…no government, especially in the developing countries will ever be able to fulfill its programmes or not depend on loans for development assistants unless it is able to keep within its economy revenue that is generated therein.’’

Regarding the report of the National Corruption Index (NCI), which focused on grand corruption, the ICPC boss said that ‘’the survey that we published has been regrettably reported by some section of the media as suggesting that judges collected bribes. Nothing can be farther from the truth… we interviewed judges, we interviewed lawyers and many responded and said, ‘we were offered’.

The justice sector, he said is not only judges, there are registrars, there are court clerks… we aggregate everything, but many of the (media) reports … zeroed in on the judges. Some even suggested that the judges collected, we never said so’’

He advised that the NCI report should be well interrogated. ‘’It is the politicians who offered the bribes through different means, either through their lawyers, or sometimes directly to the judges, but the judges didn’t tell us that they collected the bribe.

“The figures spiked over the three years period (2018-2020) because of the high stake area of focus, which is the election petition, where politicians desperate for power are ready to offer anything in order to take power’’.

On ICPC’s prevention mandate, the chairman said, ‘’we have done system study and reviews. Last year, we focused a lot on budget, with regard to personnel and capital. This year, we have done the same thing, but in addition, we look intensely at the Open Treasury Portal. Some of the things, which we have found that are consequently being further interrogated and investigated include disbursements into the accounts of civil servants that we felt require explanations and the quantum of what we saw.

‘Related to that, is the deployment of Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard, which is a peer rating mechanism. It helps to administer on the agencies of government and to predict somewhat whether an MDA is an accident waiting to happen as far as corruption is a concern.’’

He revealed that the commission is trying to put some light into the budget and appropriations, given our own limited human and financial resources.

“When we look at the Zonal Intervention Programmes, for example, we look at the sector with the biggest chunk of money, that is what we want to go after, and it is deliberate for value for money’’

He pointed out that despite the achievements recorded by the Commission; it is still bedeviled with challenges of inadequate human capital and funding, weaknesses in the justice system, and so on.

Speaking on National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP), which was midwifed by the Commission in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Director-General (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, stated that the policy was aimed at addressing the issue of values, ethics and integrity in the country.

He further said that the aim of the policy was to engage with the citizens and let them take ownership of the policy.

While explaining the next steps in the implementation of the policy and consequence management template, the spokesperson of the Commission, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua informed the participants on plans to simplify the policy, translate it into various Nigerian languages, engage stakeholders and ensure that the anti-corruption messages were broadcast on social media as well as periodic monitoring and review of the policy.

The Consultant to the event, Mr. Tajudeen Kareem pledged that going forward the media will ensure that it collaborates with the ICPC and the NOA in the implementation of the policy as well as in the fight against corruption.

He also expressed appreciation to ICPC for convening the laudable interactive session and for giving them the opportunity to contribute their quota in the fight against corruption.

ICPC Uncovers N2.67bn School Feeding Fund In Private Accounts

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has uncovered an N2.67bn fund, meant for feeding federal colleges and secondary school students, paid into private accounts. 

“We discovered payments to Federal Colleges, secondary schools for school feeding, amounting to N2.67bn during the lockdown when children were not in school and some of these monies we traced ended up in personal accounts,” the Chairman of the Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, said during the 2nd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector in Abuja on Monday.

“We have accosted those who are involved and investigations are ongoing towards who they fed when the children were at home and there was a lockdown.”

READ ALSO: Reps Query Home-grown School Feeding Programme

Giving further updates about the agency’s activities,  the ICPC Chairman added that the Commission, based on intelligence, seized over N16bn from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture because the money was moved under suspicious circumstances below the threshold of monitoring by the Accountant- General.

He equally said the ICPC has found payments to agriculture contractors for no job done or overpayments for jobs done and appropriation of projects on private farms of senior civil servants of the Ministry.

READ ALSO: How We Plan To Execute School Feeding Programme Despite Lockdown – FG

If We Do Not Kill Corruption, It Will Murder Nigeria – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for collaborative efforts in tackling corruption, saying if the menace is not curbed, it will kill Nigeria.

Buhari stated this on Monday during the second National Summit of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the inauguration of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

“As I have often reminded Nigerians, ‘If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” President Buhari said.

The President also recalled efforts he made as Military Head of State, stressing that he introduced the War Against Indiscipline (WAI).

“As a military Head of State, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their office or misused public funds to account.

“Furthermore, I introduced the War Against Indiscipline, one of whose cardinal objectives was promotion of our cherished culture of ethical conduct, integrity and hard work,” he said.

The President is of the opinion that when the three arms and the three levels of government work together, the government will be enabled to serve the country with the positive impact felt by the citizens.

The theme of the summit is “Together against corruption”.

The inauguration is to mark the commission’s 20th anniversary and Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary.

ICPC To Prosecute NECO Staff For Alleged Possession Of Fake Certificates

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs
ICPC Logo

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is set to prosecute some staff of the National Examination Council (NECO) for allegedly possessing fake certificates.

The move to prosecute the affected staff followed a request by the Registrar of NECO, Professor Godswill Obioma during a recent courtesy visit to the Commission.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Tuesday by the spokesperson for the Commission, Azuka C. Ogugua.

“Professor Obioma, at the meeting with ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, and other top management staff of the Commission, mentioned that the governing council of NECO had through a staff verification exercise, found that some staff were working in the agency with fake certificates.

“He urged ICPC to act on the report of the exercise which had been submitted to the Commission saying, “We want your office to do justice to the report especially those culpable for prosecution,” the statement read in part.

READ ALSO: Police Place N5m Bounty On ‘Wanted’ Serial Bank Robber, Kidnapper

The Commission’s spokesperson added that Professor Obioma also sought for the assistance of the Commission in combating the menace of examination malpractices.

Professor Obioma observed that a prior collaboration with ICPC in tackling examination malpractice had yielded positive results, adding that the continuous partnerships with the Commission against corruption would give credibility to NECO examinations and processes.

Chairman of ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, in response, stressed that the issue of fake certificates was becoming widespread with so many ‘special centres’ for passing examinations.

He said the Commission was willing to assist NECO in tackling corruption in the education sector, adding that the prevalence of fake certificates in the work-place was affecting quality service delivery.

NYSC Vows To Prosecute Fraudulent Ex-Corp Members

A file photo of National Youth Service Corp members in action. Credit: NYSC/Twitter
A file photo of National Youth Service Corp members in action. Credit: NYSC/Twitter

 

The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, has announced plans by the Service to revisit cases of ex-corps members who served under the scheme fraudulently.

Speaking at a meeting with officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission in Abuja on Wednesday, Brigadier-General Ibrahim explained that those found culpable will face prosecution.

The move, according to the NYSC chief, will be carried out in partnership with the ICPC and help rid the nation of corrupt-minded persons.

“Those who attempt to illegally participate in the program of the scheme or have participated in the past through fraudulent means will be prosecuted when discovered,” Brigadier-General Ibrahim said.

“It must also be noted that the scheme will not entertain any request for respite or leniency by those who deliberately participate illegally in this program and are seeking restitution for their past fraudulent acts.

“We will always allow the law to take its course on such matters through the prosecution of such persons and organisations or institutions who aided and abetted them.”

Annually over 250,000 graduates engage in the NYSC scheme to gain work experience and meet youths from different backgrounds while serving the nations in unique locations.

Alleged Fraud: ICPC Begins NDDC Probe, Interrogates Top Management Staff

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has commenced an investigation into various allegations of corruption and misappropriation of COVID-19 funds in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Spokesperson of the ICPC, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, disclosed in a statement on Saturday that some top directors and staff of the agency have been quizzed after months of intelligence gathering.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in July, ordered a speedy and coordinated investigation into the corruption scandal in the agency following a series of drama, blames, and counter-accusations among others.

According to the ICPC spokesperson, top officials are being interrogated in the alleged diversion of N5.47 billion meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC.

“The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has quizzed top management staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), over allegations of various acts of corruption such as diversion of funds, procurement fraud and misappropriation of the agency’s Covid-19 funds.

“Some directors of NDDC were interrogated at the Commission’s headquarters recently, after months of intelligence gathering, following the receipt of petitions from Nigerians on the alleged illegalities and contracts fraud by some officials of the agency,” it added.

READ ALSO: Kwara Deputy Governor Recovers From COVID-19

“Top officials of the agency are being investigated for their complicity in an alleged diversion of N5.474 billion meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC,” the statement read in part.

Mrs Ogugua said that the commission is also investigating the payment of monies for some staff training abroad, which was never attended due to the global lockdown measures enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“The Commission is also investigating the payments of millions of naira to the staff of the agency for foreign training during the Covid-19 full lockdown which were never attended, as well as the non-payment of entitlements to students on foreign scholarships.

“Other allegations being investigated by ICPC include the selling of back-dated contract award letters for projects and awards of contracts that were not captured in the budget of the NDDC,” she stated.

The ICPC spokesperson added that the Commission has retrieved relevant documents that will help in uncovering the truth, recover diverted funds and prosecute anyone found to have breached the law.

The NDDC Saga

The NDDC has been a subject of controversy in the last few months over allegations of corruption in the award of contracts and the non-payment of Nigerian scholars under the payroll of the commission.

This prompted the National Assembly to invite the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godwill Akpabio, and the former Interim Management Committee head, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei.

Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council approved N722.3 million for eight field forensic auditors to audit the NDDC in a bid to unravel the level of corruption in the agency in charge of the development of the Niger Delta region.

Alleged Fraud: Court Jails Ex-Finance Director Of Niger Delta Ministry

 

A Federal High Court sitting in the (FCT) has sentenced a former Finance Director of the Niger Delta Ministry, Mr. Ayinla Abibu, to a one-year jail term.

The court also asked him to forfeit two of his lands in Kubwa and Bwari, both in Abuja.

In a statement by the Spokesperson for the commission, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, states the convict was charged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for embezzling the sum of N60 Million from the Federal Government through the use of a front company, Zeocat Nigeria Limited, in March 2014.

Abibu was charged by the Commission before Hon Justice Olukayode Adeniyi for defrauding the Federal Government in collusion with a former Principal Accountant in the Ministry, Mr. Kabiru Poloma, by fraudulently withdrawing money from the Constituency Project account of the Ministry domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The 60-year-old convict was said to have used the proceeds of the fraud to acquire a house in Ogbomosho, Oyo state, and plots of land in Kubwa and Bwari of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

Before his sentencing, the defence lawyer, Abiola Akinwale, pleaded with the Court to be lenient with the convict by granting him a lighter sentence as the convict falls amongst the age vulnerable to COVID-19.

The defence lawyer further told the court that a longer sentence would quicken the death of the convict’s aged parents who were 99 and 92 years old respectively.

The ICPC Counsel, Mr. George Lawal, while conceding the powers of the sentence to the court, stated that the grievous nature of the crime committed by the convict demanded that he should be punished accordingly.

Lawal argued that a lesser sentence might fail to serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.

He said, “In the circumstances, it is only fair that restitution is made in the equal value of what was taken. This will send a clear message that crime does not pay”.

ICPC Lying, Persecuting Me Unjustly, Bauchi Governor Cries Out

(FILE) Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed.

 

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has cried out over what he describes as an unjust treated meted on him by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

In a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mukhtar Gidado, Governor Mohammed alleged that the anti-graft agency is persecuting him unjustly by accusing him of abusing office during his tenue as FCT Minister.

The governor noted that the corruption allegations levelled against him by the commission were “false and mischievous.”

“We refute the Commission’s story in its entirety and state that Senator Bala Mohammed did not flout any policy or break any law, known to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria nor did he, in any way, breach his oath of office to warrant perniciously scandalizing his name or subjecting members of his family to mindless persecution as the ICPC is wilfully pushing.

“Zinaria International School was established and had been long operational, offering quality education, in a cost-effective manner, to all and sundry, long before Senator Bala Mohammed became Minister of the FCT.

“Like any other corporate entity, due to planned expansion, the School applied for land, a legitimate right it would have exercised, irrespective of whomsoever was the Minister of the FCT, at the time,” the statement partly read.

READ ALSO: Three Confirmed Dead As Farmers And Herders Clash In Jigawa

The governor’s reaction come five days after the ICPC announced it had seized a multi-million-naira property belonging to the Bauchi leader.

The commission on its website alleged that the governor, in his capacity as FCT Minister, “allocated the said property to a school that had himself and family members as directors and shareholders, despite an existing right of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture over the land.”

But the governor’s spokesman said: “The shareholders and directors of the School are Nigerians who, by their respective ages, were qualified to apply for and be allocated land if they met the conditions precedent.

“And we make bold to say that all the names listed in the MEMAT of the School are eminently qualified to be allocated land.”

COVID-19: ICPC Sets Up Team To Monitor Spending Of Donated Funds

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has set up an independent team to monitor expenditures from the COVID-19 Special Intervention Funds.

Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, a spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

She noted that the ICPC set up the COVID-19 Funds Monitoring Team in the execution of its preventive mandate in Section 6 (b)-(d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

According to the commission’s spokesperson, the team is to prevent possible financial abuses that may arise in the management of the funds.

She explained that the team would monitor the disbursement and utilisation of the funds, donations, and other receipts mobilised towards combating the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

Okoduwa added that the team would deploy the appropriate strategy to prevent incidences of corruption that may have a negative impact on the efforts of the government to deal effectively with the pandemic.

She stressed that the team’s work would complement the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regards to transparency and accountability in the management of the funds.

The ICPC spokesperson warned those involved in the management chain of the COVID-19 response to avoid actions that could result in any criminal investigation.

“While the Commission salutes all those in the frontline of battling the outbreak and everyone facilitating the national effort behind the scene, it hereby reiterates its earlier advisory to all actors in the management chain of the COVID-19 response to steer clear of all unethical and corrupt acts that could result in criminal investigation and consequences,” the statement said.

PEBEC, ICPC Collaborate To Prosecute Corrupt Public Officials

 

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has partnered with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate and prosecute public officials and civil servants accused of corrupt practices.

This was disclosed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who presided over the meeting of PEBEC at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Prof Osinbajo said the direct connection between the agencies will help in achieving the Federal Government’s reform agenda, especially regarding all government MDAs regulating business environment responsibilities.

“There is a lot of talk about high-level corruption and some public officials stealing money, etc; but I think for average Nigerians, the point of contact is really this sort of approvals for ID cards, for passports, customs, officials, police, and so on.”

READ ALSO: Court Fixes March 27 For Judgement In $54,000 Forfeiture Case

 

 

He stressed that complaints from Nigerians regarding activities and practices in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) bordering on suspected corruption and deliberate stalling of reform efforts submitted on the REPORTGOV.NG portal of PEBEC will be investigated by the ICPC.

“I think that if this collaboration is robust enough, we will be able to kill two birds with one stone; first is improving our Ease of Doing Business, second is our anti-corruption ranking internationally because some of the rankings is a perception index. So, people are simply asked, what is your perception about corruption in Nigeria?

“So, if we work on these issues, we can really do a lot in terms of improving the image of the country, not just in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, but also in terms of the perception of corruption”.

The meeting had in attendance, top government officials including the Ministers of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; the Ag. Head of Service, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan.

Others include Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd); Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede; and other senior government officials.

Court Orders Arrest Of Ex-Customs Boss, Dikko

Mr Abdullahi Dikko

 

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the arrest of a former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu issued a bench warrant for Dikko’s arrest, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa who is the spokesperson for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said in a statement on Monday.

The judge noted that the order was necessary to ensure the former Customs boss appear in court to take his plea on the next adjourned date for his arraignment by the ICPC.

This followed an application brought by ICPC’s prosecution counsel, E. Shogunle, when another scheduled arraignment could not hold due to the absence of Dikko in court.

Justice Ojukwu granted the commission’s prayer over the continued failure of the former comptroller-general to show up in court for his arraignment.

While ordering Dikko’s arrest, she noted that his lawyer who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Solomon Akuma, had assured the court on the last adjourned date that his client was going to be present in court.

She wondered that Akuma only turned around to present a medical report claiming that his client was critically ill and on admission in London.

The judge, however, ruled that the execution of the warrant should be suspended if it was discovered that the accused was actually ill and receiving treatment in a London hospital.

If otherwise, she ordered the prosecution to arrest Dikko and produce him in court on March 16, which is the next adjourned date for arraignment.

The former Customs boss is facing multiple charges alongside two others – Garba Makarfi and Umar Husseini.

The charges border on allegedly defrauding the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Mr Yemi Obadeyi, of a sum of N1.1 billion.

Sokoto Director Arraigned For Allegedly Issuing Fake Scholarship Letters

A file photo of Mohammad Yusuf.

 

 

A Deputy Director with the Sokoto State Scholarship Board (SSSB), Mohammad Yusuf, has been arraigned before the State High Court in Sokoto.

Yusuf was arraigned before Justice Muhammad Muhammad over alleged forgery on Thursday by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

He was charged with three counts for allegedly signing and issuing forged scholarship sponsorship letters to three students who used the same to secure entry visas to the United Kingdom from the British High Commission in Abuja.

The offence is said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

ICPC’s prosecution counsel, Mashkur Salisu, told the court that the accused, who is serving as the Deputy Director in charge of International Student Matters of the SSSB, deliberately made a false statement to an officer of the British High Commission through the misleading documents.

According to him, the offence also contravenes Section 25(1)(b) and punishable under Section 25(1)(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

One of the counts read, “That you Muhammad Buhari Yusuf on or about the month of September 2018 or thereabouts in Sokoto within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to cause damage to the public forged a scholarship sponsorship letter of the Sokoto State and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 348 and punishable under Section 349 of the Sokoto Penal Code of Law, 2019.”

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against him.

The defence counsels, Nuhu Aminu and Faruk Abdullahi, then prayed the court to grant bail to their client on liberal terms.

Counsel to ICPC did not object to the bail application.

He, however, urged that the court grant the bail with reasonable sureties that would ensure the attendance of the accused at his trial.

Justice Muhammad, thereafter, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N100,000 and a surety who must be on Grade Level 15 in the Sokoto State Civil Service with landed property.

He also adjourned the case until March 12 for the commencement of hearing.