Anti-graft Agency to investigate 712 projects in 20 States

Salihu Ali, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Anti-graft Agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is to investigate fraudulent procurement practices in the award of 712 government-funded projects in 20 states across the 6 geo-political zones.

This is Phase 5 of the Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Exercise, following the successful completion of the 4th phase earlier this year.

The 5th phase would commence on the 8th of November, 2022 in the following states; Kaduna, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Borno, Bauchi, and Gombe States.

In a statement by the commission’s Spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, She explained that the objective is to ensure that all government-funded projects are executed fully to their specifications and to make recoveries where the project costs are inflated by contractors or are poorly executed.

Phase 5 of the exercise will be carried out by ICPC in collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as the Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, the Media and Civil Society Organizations that constitute the steering committee.

The Commission, had in the 4th Phase of the exercise, successfully tracked 538 projects across 9 focal areas of Health, Education, Power, Water Resources, Works, Housing, Agriculture, Transport, and Environment.

“The exercise was conducted in 19 states across the 6 geopolitical zones and the FCT including Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Borno and FCT”. 

Findings

Some of the findings from the Phase 4 exercise include the discovery of N7.1 billion worth of padded projects, some contractors who had abandoned projects sites being compelled to return to different sites to complete N10.9 billion worth of projects, while N6.8 billion worth of recoveries (cash and assets) have been made so far.

“109 out of the 543 selected projects in Phase 4, amounting to N1,176,867,800 were found to have been inserted, which effectively turned them into Zonal Intervention Projects.”

“Intelligence revealed that the insertions were done by both legislators and some members of the Executive arm of the government in the budget-making process.”

Forfeited Assets 

In another development, the Commission has commenced the process of disposal of assets forfeited to the Nigerian Government in line with the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Act (POCA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 2022, with a bid opening to select auctioneers.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye at the opening of technical bids in Abuja, hailed the impact of the bill on the anti-corruption war and described it as a tool which brought clarity and purpose to the previously murky waters of asset recovery and management.

The Chairman, represented by a Board Member of the Commission, Dr. Louis Mandama, noted that the unregulated structure surrounding forfeited assets often led to huge revenue loses which ultimately defeated the purpose of recovery.

He explained that the Proceeds of Crime Act introduced a standardized procedure for the management and disposal of forfeited assets, helped set up a governing directorate, and ensured that all processes were deliberated on and executed by professionals who were experts in relevant fields.

This, Professor Owasanoye said, promotes transparency and prioritizes corruption prevention.

“Each agency that recovers assets was responsible for the disposal of the forfeited assets and the process was tamper-proof as it instructs that all proceeds be lodged in a dedicated account, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria and accessible only at the discretion of the National Assembly and the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

“Whatever is gotten at the end of this exercise, there is a dedicated account under the watchful eyes of the Central Bank of Nigeria in place already. Nobody has the powers to transfer or move anything out of that account only the National Assembly and the President.”

Speaking on the bill, the ICPC boss revealed that the commission has an Asset Recovery and Management manual which provides the guidelines to ensure all processes are governed and controlled.

He also pointed out that the Commission had, in line with the POCA, set up a committee comprised of board members, directors, representatives of labour, civil society organisations, media and the Bureau of Public Procurement to administer the bid process.

Professor Owasanoye expressed delight that the Commission is amongst the first to carry out an auction based on the POCA and suggested that the success of the process would ultimately encourage other agencies to follow suit.

“The bid opening process began with the opening and counting of submitted bids based on the lots which had been publicly advertised and were subject to stringent term and conditions. There were two lots available with 58 and 54 bids respectively. Each box was meticulously processed with records being taken for accepted, returned and withdrawn bids.”

The opening of technical bids was attended by ICPC Board Members, Grace Chinda and Senator Anthony Agbo, directors of the Commission, staff of relevant departments, bidders and external observers from the Bureau of Public Procurement and a civil society organization.

 

PIAK

 

 

 

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