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ICPC inaugurates Students Anti-Corruption Vanguard in LASU

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ICPC inaugurates Students Anti-Corruption Vanguard in LASU

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says youths have the needed energy to turn the tide of corruption that hampers the growth and progress of the nation.

 

Mr Shuntena Binga, the Commissioner, Lagos Office of ICPC disclosed this on Wednesday, while inaugurating the Students Anti-Corruption Vanguard (SAV) in Lagos State University (LASU).

 

The zonal commissioner, represented by Mrs Mary Omonoyan, Principal Superintendent, Education Unit of ICPC, Lagos Zonal Office, said that the inauguration of SAV in LASU was the beginning of a robust relationship between the commission and the institution.

 

He said that the commission considered the youth to be the stakeholders in the fight against corruption and the school system was where a lot of Nigerian youths were found.

 

“Youths are strategic partners in the crusade against corruption because they have the vibrancy, physical and mental alertness, passion for life and creativity to make them instruments for social change.

 

“There are two things that can stop you from your dreams. It is corruption and you.

 

“If you don’t fight corruption, it will fight you and your dreams,” he said.

 

Binga said that SAV initiative would  serve as a vehicle through which the commission would be educating young minds on the fundamentals of anti-corruption.

 

He said that for SAV to function effectively, all stakeholders, school managements, academic, non-academic staff, student union groups, students and parents were enjoined to work hand in hand with the commission.

 

Binga said that students who would be members of SAV need to be upright in all that they do, as they would be seen as role models worthy of emulation by their peer groups.

 

He said that the commission was partnering with Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) a Non Governmental Organisation, to fight corruption in higher institutions of learning, with a view to eliminating it from the society.

 

The zonal commissioner  said the commission was delighted to interact with students of LASU.

 

Meanwhile, Dr Femi Obayemi, the Dean, Students Affairs, LASU, urged the members of SAV in the institution to be bold and strong for choosing to fight corruption.

 

“As you have chosen to fight corruption today, you have chosen the best.

 

“You need to be bold, patient and conversant with the world. You have to take personal decisions and read your books very well,” he advised the students.

 

Obayemi commended the commission for the initiative, promising that the institution would continue to collaborate with them on the initiative to eradicate corruption in the country.

 

Mr Waheed Oluwaseun, a SAV volunteer and student, lauded the initiators of the program and charged other young Nigerian students to key into the fight against corruption, as the youth were always at the receiving end.

 

The Nigeria News Agency reports that no fewer than 300 students of the institution voluntarily joined the anti-corruption vanguard.

ROR/SOA

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle

 

 

Rasak Raji: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Metro

School feeding programme for pupils to resume May 14 – Minister

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The Federal Government says the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) for primary school pupils will resume on Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Abuja and subsequently in Lagos, Ogun and other states.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minster of

of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development made the disclosure in a statement by her Special Assistant on Media, Mr Salisu Dambatta on Tuesday in Abuja.

The minister said the resumption was based on a presidential directive.

She said each household would receive a Take-Home Ration (THR) valued  N4,200 made up of 5 kg Bag of Rice, 5 kg Bag of Beans, 500 ml Vegetable Oil, 750 ml Palm Oil, 500 mg Salt, 15 pcs of eggs, 140gm Tomato Paste.

“The ministry in consultation and collaboration with state governments, identified the distribution of take-home rations to the households of the children on the programme as a feasible method of achieving this directive.

“This is a globally accepted means of supporting children to continue to have access to nutrient rich foods despite disruptions to the traditional channels of school feeding by the pandemic.

“The provision of take-home rations will, therefore, be carried out based on data provided and structures put in place by the feeding programme over the years.

“Kwara and Bayelsa where the programme was not fully operational before the lockdown will be able to benefit from the modified programme.

“The target beneficiaries are children in primary one to three in public schools participating in the programme. A total of 3,131,971 households are targeted for this intervention.

“Parents/caregivers of beneficiaries are to collect the take-home rations using vouchers.

“We are employing vouchers which are QR coded, serialised with date and time stamped and identified households will be able to access take-home rations from distribution centers.

“Each household will receive uncooked food items that have been assessed and approved by nutrition experts as adequate for the children.

“However, over 6,000 schools will serve as distribution centers for clusters of communities except in some states with unique security and safety issues where other structures will be used,” Farouq said.

She explained that the ministry had also incorporated rapid sensitisation into all phases of this distribution so that people are equipped with the knowledge they needed to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

According to Farouq, the ministry is also deploying resources to provide oversight for these processes to ensure equity and accountability.

She noted that field personnel and monitoring teams had been set up and are ready to move.

“As an extra layer of monitoring, the ministry has requested other agencies of government including the DSS, EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and a host of NGOs and CSOs to help monitor.

“The ministry’s hotlines will be made available to the public to provide accurate information and for grievance redress,” she said.

 

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Judiciary

Court fixes May 13 for arraignment of 2 Malaysians, 1 other over alleged forgery

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An FCT High Court has fixed Wednesday, May 13 for the arraignment of two Malaysians and a Nigerian over alleged forgery.

The court granted the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) leave to arraign Saththiyaraj Kantharasa, Vinith Ukantharasa and Anthony Adetokunboh.

They were to be arraigned before Justice Olasumbo Goodluck on Monday but the court did not sit.

The ICPC alleged that the suspects were arrested for being in possession of fake Malaysian passports and making false statement.

In another development, the FCT High Court will sit every full Monday, Wednesday and Friday after thr suspension order was lifted by the FCT Judicial Service Committee following a five-week COVID-19 lockdown ordered by President Muhammad Buhari.

NAN reports that the court on May 5 began virtual proceedings in a bid to ensure efficient management of sitting on cases.

The virtual proceedings were test-run in three courts presided over by Justice Salisu Garba; Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf  and Justice Peter Affen at Maitama.

The FCT Chief Judge, Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, had on May 8 issued a Practice Direction in which he ordered the courts under the FCT judiciary to reopen for regular sittings on Sunday.

Bello directed judges and magistrates in the jurisdiction to enforce social distancing measures.

He added that the judges and  magistrates should organise their cause lists to ensure that no more than five cases are fixed per day.

“In keeping with demands of social distancing, the court shall indicate in advance the sequence and specific time for hearing of cases in order to avoid the convergence of counsel and parties in the courtroom.

“The court shall allot time for each party to present his or her case, taking into consideration the peculiarities of each case in all cases; whether criminal or civil.

“Only the parties and their counsel shall be allowed into the courtroom, subject to a maximum number of 10 persons, excluding court officials, at any given time,” Justice Bello said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Judiciary

ICPC has powers to investigate certificate forgery, court tells Obono-Obla

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Thursday held that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has powers to investigate allegation of certificate forgery against Okoi Obono-Obla,

This is with regards to the allegation of certificate forgery leveled against Obono-Obla, suspended Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).

The court  also dismissed the allegation of abuse of fundamental human rights filed against ICPC by Obono-Obla.

 

The presiding judge, Justice Nkeonye Maha held that Obono-Obla failed to show how his right was abused or about to be breached following the invitations by ICPC and consequently dismissed the case. 

 

Justice Maha also struck out Obono-Obla’s claim that the commission lacked powers to investigate allegation of certificate forgery for being incompetent.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the former SPIP Chairman was arrested by ICPC operatives in March after the commission declared him wanted in October 2019 for repeatedly failing to honour invitations sent to him.

ICPC, while investigating allegations of abuse of office, certificate forgery and fraud amongst others, had wanted Obono-Obla to appear before it to clear his name.

He refused to honour  the invitations which led to his arrest and subsequent detention in the commission’s facilities before being released on bail.

Obono-Obla then approached the court, claiming alleged breach of his fundamental right to dignity of human person and personal liberty.

He also sought the court’s powers to declare that ICPC lacked the powers to investigate him over allegation of certificate forgery.

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Defence/Security

ICPC draws guidelines for management of COVID-19 relief funds

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has drawn up guidelines for the management of relief funds by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to prevent corruption. 

Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okoduwa said the move was in pursuant of the corruption prevention mandate of the ICPC as enshrined in Section 6 (b)-(d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

She explained that the guidelines were also in furtherance of an independent COVID-19 Funds Monitoring Team recently set up by the commission.

The committee is charged with monitoring of the “disbursement and utilisation of the funds, donations and other receipts mobilised toward combating the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country”.

Okoduwa said one of the key provisions of the guidelines was the Bank Accounts Policy, which “allows the Chairman of the PTF the discretion to designate bank accounts solely for the collection of funds and donations.”

The policy, she said, also designates “a specific bank account that receipts are swept into for expenditure whose signatories, though appointed by the Chairman, PTF shall not have approving powers.

“Reconciliations of the accounts and books maintained shall be submitted to the Chairman, PTF, monthly,” she said.

The ICPC’s statement came after President Muhammadu Buhari issued new directives on COVID-19 donations to the country to ensure prudence, transparency and accountability in their utilisation.

Mr Henshaw Ogubike, the Director of Information and Press in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, announced the presidential directive in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ogubike said the president had approved the opening of five COVID-19 Donor Accounts which form part of the existing Treasury Single Account arrangement in five commercial banks.

As of the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether the presidential directive got inputs from the ICPC guidelines.

Okoduwa said the guidelines also contained Expenditures and Payments provision which “requires payments to vendors, suppliers and ad hoc staff to be mainly by bank transfer after they have made supplies or rendered service in order to leave trails.”

“Furthermore, the responsibility for procurements rests on the shoulders of the Chairman, PTF and all such procurements are required to adhere to the provisions of Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 in the emergency period.

“Additionally, all postCOVID-19 procurements must comply fully with the comprehensive provisions of the procurement law.

“The guidelines also require all cash advances to be subject to the Financial Regulations (FR) and Public Service Rules (PSR).

“Petty cash advances may be made to an officer for petty cash transactions as approved by the Chairman, PTF.

“Officials, who receive such advances shall be personally accountable and financially liable for the custody and management of the advances.

“They must account for the advances at any given time and are to report weekly to the Chairman or as he may direct,” the ICPC spokesperson said.

Okoduwa added that the guidelines contained specific provisions to take care of approval thresholds, audit, monitoring and evaluation.

She said they encouraged the task force to “engage the active participation of individuals or groups outside the public sector to enhance accountability, transparency and promote public participation and contribution”.

“This is to ensure that information is made available to the public and for them to provide feedback through the ICPC toll-free telephone lines, email, social media platforms, etc. to eliminate the suspicion of corruption.

“The guidelines shall not apply to donations and receipts from the private sector unless they are given to the Task Force to manage,” she said.

 

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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Defence/Security

COVID-19: ICPC sets up Funds Monitoring Team

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) has set up an independent COVID-19 Funds Monitoring Team.

Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, Spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

According to Okoduwa, the Team will monitor the disbursement and use of the funds, donations and other receipts mobilised towards combating the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country.

“The Team will deploy appropriate strategy to prevent incidences of corruption that may have negative impact on the efforts of government to deal effectively with the pandemic.

“Its work will complement the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regard to transparency and accountability in the management of the funds,” she said.

She, however, salutes all those in the frontline of battling the outbreak and everyone facilitating the national effort behind the scene.

Okoduwa reiterated the Commission’s 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.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Ismail Aabdulaziz
(NAN)

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General news

COVID-19: Okei-Odumakin demands accountability, transparency in distribution of relief materials

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Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, has demanded for transparency and accountability toward the distribution of COVID-19 relief materials to the aged, physically challenged and most vulnerable households in the country.

Okei-Odumakin made the demand in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Wednesday.

She noted that individuals and institutions had been donating money and relief materials to fight the Coronavirus pandemic in the country and such items should not be diverted into wrong hands.

She said: “The relief materials is a welcome development but accountability and transparency must be ensured in managing those funds.

“We must not allow the experiences of the past, where funds donated for such interventions are mismanaged by a few.

“In that regard, agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC, must from this moment, begin to monitor every financial dealing, relating to the COVID- 19, at all levels.’’

Okei-Odumakin said the group had heard about series of such palliative measures coming from the Federal Government and some state governments, particular Lagos, to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the citizenry.

She, however, alleged that there was already an abuse and hijack of the process by some politicians.

Okei-Odumakin said the allegation was already defeating the purpose which was mainly aimed at assisting the indigent and most vulnerable ones among us.

According to her, the group is demanding that a sincere approach must be deployed immediately, otherwise, this will end up as another looting spree of public funds.

Okei-Odumakin urged governments at all levels to really explore all the measures they could in alleviating the suffering of the citizens due to the sit-at-home order by President Muhammadu Buhari.

She noted that there were still better approaches of dealing with the issue and government should consider engaging such process.

Okei-Odumakin said various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) had been donating medical and food materials to provide support and succour in these trying times.

She said various private organisations and individuals had been doing same within their limited capacities.

According to her, the call is also on all Nigerians, particularly in those states under lockdown, to assist as much as possible, people within their neighbourhood at this crucial moment.

Okei-Odumakin said the group was currently working on series of advocacy on COVID- 19.

She said: “Our main focus has been on educating Nigerians on the need to abide by every directive and comply with all given guidelines toward limiting wider spread of the coronavirus.

“We have also given our bit of palliatives to some widows and vulnerable people within Lagos and healthcare workers.

“Our effort is on the frontline in the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak but a united effort will help defeat the disease.’’

Okei-Odumakin warned that the outbreak could persist, if Nigerians did not follow precautionary measures in place by the Federal and State Governments.

She said the pandemic would only be defeated through a collective effort.

She, therefore, commended the health care workers and other essential workers for their selfless efforts at this trying period.

Okei-Odumakin said together they would tackle the disease, saying that if they remained united and resolute, then Nigeria would overcome the pandemic.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Adeleye Ajayi
(NAN)

 

 

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Politics

Oyo-Ita’s trial vindicates Buhari’s fight against corruption – BMO

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   The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) says the trial of former Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, has demonstrated President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption.

BMO Chairman,  Mr Niyi Akinsiju,  in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday,  said that the trial has proved that the Buhari administration was not only interested in probing officials of past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations in the country.

“The trial of the immediate past Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winnifred Oyo-Ita and the arrest of a former Presidential Aide, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, is a positive proof of the commitment of the Buhari administration to a  successful war against corruption.

“This is contrary to claims by opposition elements that the federal government has only been going after officials of past PDP administrations,” Akinsiju said.

He said that the trial was also a clear message to Nigerians with corruption tendencies, regardless of political affiliation.

“Nigerians have over the years seen how PDP elements have sought to rubbish the anti-graft credentials of Buhari and his administration by selling a false impression of selective prosecution to the unsuspecting public.

“But yet again, this government is showing that it would not tolerate corrupt practices on its watch so soon after the trial of former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal began over a N500 million grass-cutting scandal.

“Now, another one-time senior official of Buhari administration, Oyo-Ita, is before a Federal High Court in Abuja to answer for her alleged indiscretion.

“Some of the allegations stemmed from her previous roles as Director and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service before her appointment as Head of Service,” BMO chairman said.

According to him, Oyo-Ita is on trial for fraud alongside her Special Assistant Mr Ubong Okon Effiok and some companies, in which she is believed to have interests, in relation to Duty Tour Allowances (DTA), estacodes and conference fees’ fraud.

“As well as receiving kickbacks from contractors in various Ministries and Parastatals where she worked.

“Even-though Oyo-Ita’s trial has only opened in court, the fact that Nigeria’s immediate past foremost civil servant is in the dock is proof that this President is not only interested in the reckless past of the PDP era, but also in acts of corruption that may have been perpetrated under his watch,” he added.

He added that the recent arrest of the suspended chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, was also a pointer to the fact that the Buhari administration was not selective in the fight against corruption.

“Here is one man that described himself as a loyalist of Buhari and even claimed at a point that he was being persecuted for his loyalty to the President’s cause.

“But this didn’t stop the ICPC from declaring him wanted and when he failed to make himself available to clear himself on allegations of corruption, he was arrested by the anti corruption body.

“This is by all accounts an unprecedented move,  especially as certain elements had claimed that the government was playing to the gallery by declaring the former Presidential aide wanted when it could have taken him in.

“Incidentally since his arrest by anti-graft officials last Friday, the naysayers have been quiet, but we are sure that like others before him, Obono-Obla will have his day in court especially as he had once claimed from hiding, that he was never given an opportunity to be heard,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to disregard all allegations of skewed or lop-sided prosecution of corruption cases by the Buhari administration.

Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Fraud: Court sentences ex-Adamawa Pilgrims Welfare boss to 5 years imprisonment

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The Adamawa High Court sitting in Yola has sentenced a former executive secretary, Adamawa State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Bishop Jingi Mayo, to five years imprisonment.

Mr Bello Bakori, Adamawa Commissioner, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), confirmed the development in a statement made available to the Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Yola.

Bakori said that Jingi was the executive secretary of the board between 2016 and 2017, and was sentenced to correctional facility on March 23, 2020, without option of fine.

He said the defendant was charged on a 3-count charge filed on the Jan. 30, 2019, for violating the provisions of Sections 16, 19 and 25(1)(a) of ICPC Act.

The charges, according to the commissioner, are punishable under Sections 16, 19 and 25(1)(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“The convict was charged to Court on Jan. 30, 2019, for diverting and furnishing of false return in respect of the sum of N69,198,600.00 (Sixty Nine million, One Hundred and Ninety Eight Thousand and Six Hundred Naira).

“The amount after thorough investigations was discovered meant for the operation committees of the 2016 Christian Pilgrims operation to Israel and fraudulently the convict diverted the amount for personal use.

“The convict was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Adamawa High Court presided by Justice Nathan Musa, for diverting government money and making  false statement to the officer of the Commission,” the statement read in part.

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola
(NAN)

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Features

Abacha loots’ repatriation: Of agreements and adherence to international laws

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Abacha loots’ repatriation: Of agreements and adherence to international laws

By Martins Odeh, News Agency of Nigeria 

What appears to be a criminal siphoning of the common patrimony of the nation by the Sani Abacha administration, has eventual turn out to be a

magnificent graft savings.

The gradual repatriation of the Abacha loots is hilariously described as monetary alerts by the late military head of state from the grave.

These recoveries had at variously times been deployed as palliatives and interventions in the economy by successive governments.

President Muhammadu Buhari has not left anyone in doubt as to his firm readiness to build on the successes previous governments had recorded in trying to repatriate the country’s stolen wealth.

The president had in 2016 while attending the Anti-corruption Summit in London, expressed the willingness to activate plethora of legal frameworks and agreements to recover the country’s stolen money starched abroad.

Legal complexities are usually associated with freeing up such funds by host countries.

The Federal Government was taken aback by recent claims that it asked the United States to give 100 million US dollars from loots recovered from late Abacha to Kebbi governor, Atiku Bagudu.

Mr Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said that the Bagudu family assets in contention, which constituted a distinct cause of action, did not have anything to do with the assets already recovered and being recovered under the Abacha 2014 non-prosecution agreement.

“It is therefore mischievous and pedestrian for anyone to seek to turn the law and the facts on its head on the matter of repatriation, whose terms are clearly spelt out and agreed among the parties.

“ There was no form of agreement to hand over 100 million US dollars out of the latest tranche of the recovered 300 million US dollars Abacha loot to Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu or any third party interest.

“Bagudu was pursuing separate cases in court in the United States and the United Kingdom to assert his right in connection with the Abacha loot,’’ Malami said.

Mrs Juiliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Sector Reform and International Relations, corroborates the stance of the President and Malami.

She said that the administration was committed to uphold the sanctity of international laws and agreements guiding recoveries of the Abacha loots.

“The ongoing discussion about assets recoveries is that the President made it clear since 2016 when he attended the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, that every wealth and funds that belonged to Nigeria must be recovered.

“ The Attorney -General of the Federation has developed policies that would ensure that every penny that is owed to Nigeria reverts to the country.

“The government has through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation gone to several countries to trace the country’s assets.

“The government has also gone to court with so many of these countries to recover money for the country,’’ Ibekaku-Nwagwu said.

Beyond the Abacha loots, there are other funds that have been traced to countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States, United Kingdom, Island of Jesse, British Virgin Island and France.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu said that it is important Nigerians understand the intricacies of international law and agreements guiding the effort at recovering the Abacha loots.

She described the recent narrative suggesting that the Buhari-  government was working toward ceding 100 million US dollars to Bagudu as a malicious conjecture capable of hurting the country’s image before the international community.

It is imperative to point out that the issue of Abacha funds recovery started in 1998 when Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, the country’s Head of State issued a decree to that respect.

The decree was meant to recover assets  regardless of the assets’ location, as long as there was a possibility that Nigeria could enter into agreements with countries holding onto the monies.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu said that one of the first agreements the country entered was with Switzerland, where, according to her, Nigeria has recovered more than 750 million US dollars so far.

“This recovery did not happen by accident. It is important to note that in 2000, the international laws were not friendly to countries like Nigeria.

“Why was it so? Those countries did not believe that those funds should be returned, otherwise why did they take the money in the first place?’’

The possibility of recovering most of the country’s stolen funds taken abroad only became certain when the international community started insisting that funds that related to corruption must be returned to the victims’ countries.

In fact, it was only in 2003 that the United Nations ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and made it mandatory for countries to trace assets that were related to corruption and to work with the countries where those funds were criminally taken out to return them.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu said that the country quickly leveraged on the UN convention to pass the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Law.

She said the ICPC law had since then been used as the legal instrument through which the country could negotiate with other countries on stolen funds’ repatriation.

The special assistant to the president also explained that the sanctioning of the country by the Financial Action Taskforce compelled the passage of legislation on financial crime and money laundering.

“That was what led to the Money Prohibition Act of 2003 and subsequently Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was created to enforce the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

“And subsequent amendment was critical in order to support recoveries from other countries

“This background is important to understand why President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 agreed and consented to sign an agreement to ensure the repatriation of our assets trapped abroad.

“Obasanjo, in coming to office realised that they were so much of Nigeria’s funds outside of the country, while those countries were unwillingly to return those funds without the assistance or approval of citizens who looted the funds.

“This is where the Atiku Bagudu issue came in. When Bagudu was invited, he was living in the United States with his family to the best of our knowledge based on the court documents that we have.

“The US government had expressed interest to arrest him, but the UK government was not in agreement with US action. All these funds as at the time we are talking were held in the UK, Switzerland, Island of Jesse or France and not in US’’, Ibekaku-Nwagwu said.

She further said: “By this time, the Abacha family was trying to negotiate with Nigeria government and so Atiku Bagudu publicly  agreed that he was in custody of parts of Abacha loots and was ready to return it.

“The Bagudu family said they no longer wanted to keep the stolen funds as they did not know where the money came from. The Bagudus said the Abacha family had asked them to invest the money for them.

“The UK government, therefore, requested the US government to release Atiku Bagudu to come to UK in order to commence the process of returning those funds to Nigeria.

“In doing so, the UK government and the Island of Jesse also reached out to the US government and they agreed to work with other countries to ensure these monies were returned to Nigeria in 2003,’’ Ibekaku-Nwagwu explained.

To ensure success of the process, the governments of UK, Island of Jesse, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Nigeria as well as Bagudu met in England to identify all the accounts with a view to aggregating them.

The special assistant to the president said that Bagudu had demanded for a non-prosecution agreement before a final agreement to relinquish the funds could be stuck.

“It was on the basis of this that the agreement was signed. It was also on the basis of this that President Obasanjo approved the agreement for the return of the Abacha loots managed by Bagudu.

“We are aware that because the Bagudu family cooperated at that time, Nigeria recovered more than 163 million US dollars in 2003.

“Subsequently, other funds were repatriated, and so they helped Nigeria to trace all the funds related to programmes that the Abacha family was working on outside the country,’’ she said.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu, in deflating widely held view that the Buhari administration was on the verge of releasing 100 million US dollars of the Abacha loots to the Bagudu family, said it was public knowledge that Bagudu had his separate assets.

“The Bagudu family has their own assets that were separated from the assets that were recovered from late Gen. Abacha.

“The court document and the 2003 agreement showed that paragraph 7.10 of that document clearly set out the assets that belonged to the Atiku Bagudu family and the ones to be repatriated.

“The record shows that what the Bagudu family left in the UK was their blue-holdings investment and therefore, foolhardy for anyone to conjure and construct a fictitious 100 million US dollars approval to be released to Atiku Bagudu.

“Mind you, as at the point the accounts were identified and monies aggregated, there was nothing like 100 million US dollars belonging to the Atiku Bagudu family and there is no such money as at today,’’ she said

The special assistant to the president further explained that the Bagudu family blue holdings assets had yielded interest for approximately17 years, adding that the trust was kept as an investment for the family.

Perhaps, the lack of sufficient information on the details of the Bagudu’s agreement viz a viz the non-prosecution order may have provided the fertile ground for the recent rumour.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu, however, said that the matter took a twist in 2012, when the Federal Government sought the assistance of the United States to recover the Abacha loots.

She explained that the Federal Government rode in error when it included the assets of the Bagudu’s family in the official correspondence to the US.

According to her, subsequent entreaty to the US government to leave the Bagudu’s family out of the probe by the Federal Government in 2014 fell on deaf’s ears as the US Department of State insists of prosecuting the governor.

Aggrieved by Federal Government’s action, Bagudu approached the English Court, claiming damages to the extent that the Nigerian government was trying to breach the 2003 agreement which included non-prosecution of the plaintiff.

The court granted Bagudu’s prayer by awarding the claims for damages in his favour.

“When this government assumed office in 2015, the president, following a request from the US government advised that both countries assess all the documents for better appraisal of the situation.

“As it stands, the US government is not concerned about or prepared to study the 2003 agreement.

“We have therefore told them that the country’s law would not allow the government to revisit or go against the 2003 agreement with jurisdiction in England.

“It would amount to double jeopardy when the government concluded prosecution of someone and then go back to re-try him,’’ she said.

According to her, Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution forbids such an action when a step is taken to issue a non-prosecution agreement.

“The agreement means that the person is free, because the person has given something in return. The Badugu family indeed assisted Nigeria when they free up Abacha loots in their custody,’’ she explained.

The US government seems not to agree with this position and is determined to institute a criminal investigation on the Kebbi governor. They claimed not to be part of the 2003 agreement.

Nonetheless, the Nigeria government, according to the office of the Attorney- General of the Federation, remains resolute and committed to the process that is now legally binding.

Dr Umar Gwandu, Spokesman to the Minister of Justice, restated government’s commitment to the agreement, adding that the US government lacked the jurisdiction on the matter as the issues were already before the English court for determination.

Already the country had again approached the English court over this issue in order not to be in breach of the 2003 agreement.

“There is no money in Nigeria’s custody to hand over to the Bagudu family. As such, every proposal regarding the 2003 agreement is before the court in England for determination,’’ Gwandu said.

Ibekaku-Nwagwu, also said that both Nigeria and US could explore possibility of out of court settlement in order to deflate the palpable legal dispute.

“You can see, President Buhari was not here in 2003, neither was he here in 2012. We have seen several governments come and maintain the 2003 agreement.

“This is about gaining the trust of a citizen that the government entered into agreement with. It is about protecting our citizens as well as protecting the sovereignty of our constitution and international laws,’’ she said.

The Anti-Corruption and Research Based Initiative (ARDI), a non-governmental organisation, in corroborating facts of the matter presented by the Ministry of Justice, said its findings had not controverted what the authorities said.

Dr Denise Aghanya, Executive Secretary of ARDI, described the efforts of the ministry and government in trying to repatriate all stolen funds held abroad as legendary.

The association was responsible for the investigation that led to the retirement of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

“The whistle-blower policy of President Muhammadu Buhari in the administration’s anti-corruption fight gives us the impetus to do what we do.

“We have investigated the claims that the Federal Government was about releasing 100 million US dollars of the Abacha loots to the governor of Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu.

“Our finding shows that it was empty claims, based on rumour mongering and peddling that serves no good.

“The association will continue to track events relating to the transactions with a view to telling citizens the truth and nothing but the truth,’’ Aghanya said.

What Nigerians need in every issue of national importance is sincere briefing about the true position of things. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria 

 

 

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ICPC arrests `fugitive’ ex-presidential panel chairman, Obono-Obla

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has arrested the  suspended Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Mr Ekoi Obono-Obla.

Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, who disclosed this in a statement on Friday night, said the arrest followed his “months of running from the law.”

” Obono-Obla’s arrest by operatives of the commission on Friday in Abuja, comes after he was declared wanted in October last year by ICPC for repeatedly failing to honour invitations sent to him.

“The commission, while investigating allegations of abuse of office, certificate forgery and fraud amongst others, had wanted Obono-Obla to appear before it to clear his name.

“ICPC had kept surveillance on his movements and activities for some time until he was finally arrested along Aso Drive opposite the Millennium Park Abuja on Friday afternoon,’’ Okoduwa said.

She added that the suspect was taken to the ICPC’s headquarters and “run through custody protocols including medical profiling,’’ adding that further investigation was ongoing.

Obono-Obla had earlier denied the allegations and dismissed the action of the ICPC in declaring him wanted as an attempt to ridicule and embarrass him.

He also denied being invited by the ICPC for questioning before he was declared wanted.

Edited By: Isaac Ukpoju
(NAN)

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ICPC to commence tracking, monitoring constituency projects in Jigawa

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) said it would soon commence tracking and monitoring of constituency projects in Jigawa.

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanwe stated this at a town hall meeting on Friday in Dutse.

The meeting tagged, “My Constituency, My Project” was organised by the commission, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Owasanwe, represented by Alhaji Zayyanu Danmusa, Commissioner in charge of Jigawa and Kano states,said that the projects would be tracked and monitored through the Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG).

According to Owasanwe, the CPTG was launched in 2019 to ensure that such projects were executed satisfactorily.

He said that the ICPC was government agency with specific mandate to fight corruption in three ways.

The chairman said the ways are investigating reports of corruption, prosecuting those who committed the corrupt acts and examining ways government organisations perform their work.

“In 2019, we commenced the first phase of tracking with 12 states to ensure constituency projects were executed satisfactorily.

“The CPTG is a huge success with communities in the pilot states because lots of abandoned projects were completed, or are now being completed because of intervention of ICPC.

`The exercise led to the recovery of equipment and machinery meant to benefit ordinary people, but kept away and were not distributed.

“Many of such have been now been distributed to beneficiaries, and have since been put to use.

“In the process also, the ICPC recovered money for the government from those who did not execute projects, underperformed or inflated the cost of projects,” he said.

He gave assurance that the commission would continue to track projects this year as the second phase of the exercise was about to commence.

“Importantly, the scope of the exercise has now been widened to include projects which are specifically developed and implemented by the Executive arm of government.

“So, we are gathered here today to talk about how the people can be involved in the process of selecting, implementing and monitoring these projects for the purpose of transparency and accountability,” he said.

In his remarks, NOA Director-General, Dr Garba , said that the commission had been questioning the process of location and implementation of constituency projects.

Abari, represented by the state Director, Shuaibu Haruna, said that the process was to get the citizens to take ownership of the projects since such projects were essentially meant to serve the communities.

“It is our view that when communities take ownership of the projects, there will be genuine interest to preserve and protect them.

“It will also ensure that contractors, eager to maximise profits,execute projects to the standard required.

“Community ownership will also ensure that legislators and other officials of government are alerted when there is poor execution of  contracts and that they are also held accountable,” Abari said.

He further said  that since the introduction of the constituency projects, a number of safeguards had been evolved to avoid abuse of process.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey
(NAN)

 

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Emir of Gusau lauds ICPC for enlightening rural dwellers on projects

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The Emir of Gusau, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello, has commended the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for enlightening the general public on the constituency projects executed by the Federal Government through the legislators.

The Emir gave the commendation in Gusau on Thursday, at a one-day town hall meeting tagged “My Constituency, My Project”.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the meeting was organised by the ICPC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The monarch said that the meeting would help the citizens to know their rights and government’s projects in their respective communities.

“This is a very interesting and welcomed development; if our people are enlightened, we will insist on our rights and privileges.

“This initiative will help people to know their rights more, especially as regards constituency projects,” the Emir added.

In his remark, the Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Sulaiman Tunau, expressed the willingness of his ministry to partner with the ICPC on public enlightenment.

He said that the ministry would sponsor a one-hour free air time to air ICPC programmes on Zamfara State Radio and Pride FM radio station, all in Gusau, to ensure that the campaign reached the general public.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, had said that as part of the Commission’s efforts to curb corruption in the country, ICPC recently set up the Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG), in partnership with some government and private organisations.

Bolaji, represented by ICPC Commissioner in charge of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara, Mr Musa Alkali, said that the partnership was aimed at tracking the execution of constituency projects meant to bring development to the grassroots.

According to him, the first phase of the exercise, which was carried out in 12 states across the Six geo-political zones of the country, revealed a lot of wrongdoings in how the projects were implemented, resulting in the people not benefiting or partially benefiting from such projects.

The Coordinator, State Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisation, Alhaji Ibrahim Tudu, in a remark, thanked the Commission and NOA for the partnership, stressing that the the programme would educate people at the grassroots on their constitutional rights.

He appealed to Zamfara government to give more support to ICPC to enable it carry out its responsibilities.

Edited By: Ephraims Sheyin
(NAN)

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ICPC inaugurates Constituency Projects Tracking Group in Adamawa

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has inaugurated Constituency Projects Tracking Group in Adamawa.

Mr Bello Bakori, the ICPC Commissioner in the state, inaugurated the group on Thursday in Yola.

Bakori said the core objective of the inauguration of the group was to enable the community get involved in projects monitoring and  stop corruption in the projects executed by government.

“ICPC launched its Constituency Projects Tracking Group initiative in 2019 in twelve states and it has recorded success.

“This exercise, popularly known as CPTG, was a huge success with the communities in the pilot states, because a lot of abandoned projects were completed because of the ICPC intervention,” Bakori said.

He noted that the constituency projects were not a gift or donation to the community by political representatives.

He said the constituency projects belong to the community as their fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.

The commissioner advised members of the group not to be combative towards contractors and other government officials involved in the process.

“It is important to be courteous and firm in asking questions about any project in your community.

“Where you see wrongdoing, do not confront suspected persons, but make a report to ICPC,” Bakori said.

Alhaji Ahmad Abba, the state Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), noted that when communities take ownership of government projects, there would be genuine interest to protect and preserve them.

“Majority of public perception on constituency project is that it is a largesse disbursed by government to legislators as part of the perquisites of office.

“In fact, in the past, many of these projects were never done or left uncompleted.

“The new strategy for monitoring the constituency projects would go a long way in ensuring people to own the entire process of the projects meant for their community,” Abba said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that five people from different professional backgrounds were inaugurated as members of the group.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
(NAN)

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Constituency projects: ICPC threatens to sanction contractors over abandoned projects

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has threatened to sanction contractors who abandon constituencies projects across the country.

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stated this on Thursday in Akwanga Local Government area of Nasarawa State at a Town Hall meeting, organised by the commission, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Owasanoye was represented at the occasion by Mr Adebayo Obaniyi, the commission’s Commissioner in charge of Benue/Plateau/Nasarawa States.

The ICPC chairman said that ICPC, as part of its mandate and in collaboration with NOA, decided to organise the enlightenment programme in order to get citizens’ inputs on the projects awarded to various constituencies.

He said that any senator and House of Representative member found to have connived with contractors to divert monies meant for constituency projects would also be sanctioned.

According to Owasanoye, any national assembly member or contractor, who abandoned constituency project, would be made to return and complete it or face the wrath of the law.

He said that even if such national assembly member did was voted out of office, he or she must be made to return and complete the project.

The ICPC chairman also urged members of the public to report any abandoned or diverted project to the commission for prompt action to correct the corruption going on in the country.

On his part, the Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said that constituency projects were the ones awarded by the Federal Government to better the lives of the people.

The DG, who was represented by Mrs Priscilla Allu, Nasarawa State Director of NOA, said that the Federal Government was awarding constituency projects ranging from boreholes, health facilities and donation of computers to schools and construction of roads, among others.

Abari also urged members of the communities where the projects were located to take ownership and maintain them for the overall development of the country.

He, therefore, urged the public to report any abandoned project, cases of diversion of projects or corruption to relevant authorities in order to tackle it.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the town hall meeting, with the theme: ‘My Constituency, My Project’’, had in attendance traditional rulers, religion organisations, students’ union leaders, members of NYSC and market women, among others.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru and
(NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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ICPC urges citizens to monitor constituency projects in communities

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), has urged Nigerians to effectively monitor constituency projects in their communities.

Mr Abubakar Dutsinma, the ICPC Commissioner in charge of Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe States, made the call at a town hall meeting with the theme: “My Constituency, My Project.” held on Thursday in Bauchi.

Dutsinma said it was imperative for citizens to effectively monitor constituency projects in their communities.

He emphasised that constituency projects were not gifts or donations to communities by political representatives.

The commissioner explained that such projects were funded by government, hence the projects were the responsibility of government and belonged to the citizens.

The ICPC boss urged the citizens to get involved in project monitoring as doing so would be part of accountability.

“Help yourselves to ensure that projects delivered are durable and of the right quality. Take ownership of constituency projects by showing interest in the selection, execution and use.

“You should therefore work with them to make sure the projects reflect your needs,” he said.

Dutsinma, however, reiterated the ICPC commitment to awareness and receiving reported cases of abandoned projects by past political representatives.

Also speaking, Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, NOA, explained that constituency projects were sponsored by political representatives.

Represented by Alhaji Yusuf Kobi, Bauchi state Director, NOA, said communities needed to take ownership of constituency projects for there to be genuine interest to preserve and protect them.

He said the intention of ICPC and NOA was to change perception so that the people would begin to see constituency projects as theirs.

Also speaking, Hajiya Hauwa Dahuwa, participant, demanded that government agencies should make proposed projects public.

She said making the project public before handing them over to the politicians for implementations would help in monitoring.

She thanked the organisers for giving them the knowledge on what role communities should play when projects came to their communities.

/ EMO

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Ejike Obeta
(NAN)

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ICPC urges communities to speak up on abandoned projects

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Thursday urged communities in Osun to report to it, any abandoned constituency project undertaken by lawmakers in their areas.

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the call in Osogbo at a town hall meeting tagged “My Constituency, My Project,” organised by the commission in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Owasanoye, represented by the Commissioner in charge of Osun, Ondo , and Ekiti States , Mr Shuaibu Alaro, urged the communities to alert government on poorly executed projects in their constituencies.

He said that they should do that so that their representatives could be held accountable.

“Constituency projects are not donations by the legislature representing you; they (projects) are the rights of the communities from the government.

“Your representatives in the legislature who select constituency projects do so because they are closer to you and it is expected that they understand your needs,’’ he said.

The ICPC boss said that the commission would continue to track constituency projects to ensure they were developed and implemented.

“We will not relent in ensuring that projects are developed and implemented which is an evidence that government means well for the people.

“It is through these projects that government touches the lives of citizens.

“Community must change their perception by learning to protect, monitor and report on projects within their confine to avoid fraudulent or unwholesome acts regarding projects,’’ he said.

The Director-General of NOA, Mr Garba Abari, said the main focus of the agency, especially in 2020, was to see how government could meet the desire of the people.

Abar, represented by Mrs Yomi Oaseyinde, NOA Director in Osun, said that community ownership of projects would ensure that government was alerted when there was poor execution.

“This is the basis for the new partnership between the agency and the ICPC,’’ he said.

Abari added that the template under the partnership was for the people to own the entire process from conception to execution.

Edited By: Ejike Obeta
(NAN)

 

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Constituency Projects: ICPC wants communities to speak out on abandoned projects

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),  on Thursday called on communities in Osun to speak out on any abandoned constituency projects undertaken by lawmakers in their areas.

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made this known during a town hall meeting on “My Constituency, My Project, ”organised by ICPC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Osogbo on Thursday.

Owosanoye, represented by the Commissioner in charge of Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti, Mr Shuaibu Alaro, said that communities must learn to alert government officials on poor projects in their constituency in order to hold their representatives accountable.

”Constituency projects are not donations by the legislators representing them, but it is the right of the communities from the government representing them.

“Your representatives in the legislature who select constituency projects do so because they are closer to you, and it is expected that they understand your needs,” he said.

The ICPC boss noted that the commission would continue to track community projects to ensure they were not only developed and implemented by the executive arm of government but to specifications.

”We will not relent in ensuring that projects are developed and implementation done, which is evidence that government means well for the people.

“It is through these projects that government touches the lives of its citizens.

”Projects are not gifts or donations by political representatives, but rather they are fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.

”Communities must change their perceptions by learning to protect, monitor, and report projects within their confines to avoid all fraudulent or unwholesome acts regarding the projects,” he said.

The Director-General of NOA, Mr Garba Abari, said the main focus of the agency especially in the century was to see how the vehicle of development could be made to deliver the desired gains to the people.

Abari, represented by the NOA Director in Osun, Mrs Yomi Olaseyinde, said community ownership would ensure that legislators, other officials and government were alerted when there was poor execution of projects.

”This is the base for the new partnership between the agency and the ICPC,” Abari stated.

He added that the new template advocated under the new partnership was for the people to own the entire process from conception to execution.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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ICPC, NOA engage Imo stakeholders on constituency projects monitoring

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The ICPC has advised communities to  take interest and monitor implementation of constituency projects in their domains to ensure transparency.

The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye,  gave the advice in Owerri on Tuesday at a Constituency Project Town Hall Meeting the agency organised in collaboration with the National Oreintation Agency (NOA) for stakeholders.

The theme  of the meeting was “My Constituency, My Project”.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Owasanoye was represented at the occasion by his State Commissioner, ICPC, Mr Arua Udensi.

Owasanoye said constituencies must be involved, monitor and even take ownership of constitency projects in their own interests.

He said that the consituency projects were projects that were selected by legislators and provided for in the budgets of government ministeries and agencies for execution.

According to the chairman, all these projects are located in communities across the country and are for the benefit of citizens.

Owasanoye said that in its drive to stop corruption in the projects executed by government, ICPC launched what it called Constitiuency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG) Initiative in 2019.

He said the agency commenced the first phase of tracking in 12 states to see whether constituency projects were executed and done satisfactorily.

“The exercise led to the recovery of equipment and machinery meant for the benefit of ordinary people which were kept away and were not distributed.

“Many of such have  been distributed to beneficiaries and have since been put to use.

“In the process, ICPC recovered money for government from those who did not execute the projects, underperformed or inflated the cost of the projects.

“This year, the second phase has commenced. The scope of the exercise has now been widened to include those projects which are specifically developed and implemented by the executive arm of government.

“We are gathered here today to talk about how you, the community people, can be involved in the process of project transparency and accountability,” he said

Owasanoye said that the idea of constituiency and other government projects for communities was a valid evidence that government meant well for the peoiple and it is through these projects that government touched the lives of citizens.

“For this reason you the beneficairies, need to show interest in the selection, execution and use of these projects. In other words you need to take ownership of the projects for sustainability in the long time,” he said.

Mr Garba Abari, the Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), said that projects were inserted or sponsored by members of the National Assembly during the budget circle to get development closer to the grassroots.

Abari, who was represented by the NOA State Director in Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, said that constitutiency projects gave the representatives of the peoiple the required opportunity to identify infrastructural lapses in their dormain for government intervention.

He said constituency projects covered several sub-heads including provision of books for local libraries, water borehole, health facilities, donation of computers to schools, roads construction among other areas that might interest a representative from a federal constituiency.

Abari said that NOA was partnering the ICPC to deliver the desired gains to the people.

He said ICPC had been interrogating the process of location and implementation of constitiuiency projects and found out that the vital component of the process was to get the citizens to buy-in or take ownership of these projects since essentially they meant to serve their communities.

“It is our view that when communities take ownership of these projects, there would be genuine interest to preserve and protect them.

“It will also ensure that contractors ever eager to maximise profits, execute the projects to the highest standard required.

“Community ownership will ensure that legislators and other officials of government are alerted when there is poor execution of these contracts and that they are also held accountable.

“It is, therefore, imperative that a new template for implementing the constituiency project be adopted.

“The new template we advocate under the new partnership between NOA and ICPC is for the people to own the entire process, beginning from conception to execution.

“It is through this that the aims of bringing government to the grassroots will be achieved,” Abari said.

Some of the participants commended the organisers for the programme, but expressed concern on the attitude of some politicians Found it difficult to deliver dividends of democracy to their constituencies.

They also asked how they would ascertain the actual amount given to representatives for constituency projects as it would determine what they would lay hands on to monitor or write petition if the need arose.

Other stakeholders wondered why politicians were not invited to the town hall meeting and why there was no proper lecture or seminar on project monitoring as part of the programme.

The Chairman, Ngor Okpala Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Geoffery Okoro, also one of the participants, said it was important that the community members or stakeholders had knowledge of the ammount budgeted for each project for proper monitoring.

He asked of at the main duties of ICPC and EFCC, arguing that often ICPC would initiate cases,  but later hand it over to EFCC and at the end of the day the culprits would not be prosecuted.

Mr Ifeanyi Nkwocha, Chairman, Owerri West President-Generals, enjoined NOA and ICPC to organise seminars  on how to monitor constituency projects and not just an interactive session.

He said the communities should be able to find out what their constitiency project were, who is the contractor, whether it is a federal or state project, check the level of project completion and how much it was budgeted for.

Mr Ugwuezumba Onwuemeodo, another participant from Mbaise, said that the challenge of constituency project monitoring included lack of information, fear of the unknown and people’s lack of confidence on politicians.

He urged NOA and ICPC to ensure they were part of signing of constituency contracts and that community members were aware of the projects and the materials that would be used for the execution.

Edited By: Tajudeen Atitebi
(NAN)

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ICPC calls for increased citizens’ participation in projects execution

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has enjoined people in  Akwa Ibom to participate in the initiation, monitoring and execution of public projects in their communities.

Mr Shola Shodipo, Director of ICPC in the state made the call at the inauguration of an awareness campaign tagged: “My Constituency, My Project,’’ on Tuesday in Uyo.

Shodipo said the commission had continued to carry out sensitisation exercises to educate the people on the need for them to own and take responsibility in the execution of projects in their various communities.

He said the sensitisation was aimed at enlightening members of the public on their roles in the execution of projects by both the executive and legislative arms of governments.

“Our Public enlightenment effort centres on constituency and government projects in the communities and the role citizens have to play to make everyone benefit from the projects,’’ he said.

The ICPC official further explained that projects executed by government at various levels had to be tracked for the purposes of transparency and value addition.

“To this end, our drive is simply to stop graft in projects execution and as part of effort to fight corruption in different area of our national life.

“ICPC recently launched constituency projects tracking group and working with partners, went round 12 states of the Federation to track projects whose contracts had been budgeted for and awarded.

“The exercise revealed a lot of wrongdoings concerning how the contracts were carried out resulting in the people not benefiting from such projects.

“For this reason, you the beneficiaries need to show interest in selection, execution and use of such projects. In order words you need to take ownership of projects for sustainability’’, Sodipo said.

The State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Eno Uyoh, said the programme put together in conjunction with NOA, was  to sensitise the public on the need to monitor public projects in the state.

Uyoh said all members of communities in the state had the  right to benefit from public projects, adding that people should take interest in the implementation of such projects from the beginning to end.

“You must get involved by monitoring and tracking of all the constituency projects located within your local areas and also ensuring that standards are maintained,’’he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that participants were drawn from various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the media and community based organisations.

Edited By: Martins Odeh and Isaac Ukpoju
(NAN)

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ICPC urges communities to report wrongdoings in executing constituency projects

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has urged communities to report wrongdoings on any constituency projects undertaken by lawmakers in their areas.

The ICPC Chairman,Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye,  made the call during a town hall meeting on “My Constituency, My Project, ” organised by ICPC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Sokoto on Tuesday.

Represented by the ICPC Commissioner in charge of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States, Mr Musa Alkali, Owasanoye said that the constituency projects were not gifts or donations by their elected  representatives.

“They belong to you as fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.

“Your representatives in the legislature who select constituency projects do so because they are closer to you, and it is expected that they understand your needs better.

“You should therefore work with them to make sure that projects chosen for you actually reflect your needs,” he said.

The ICPC Chairman added that the Communities needed to be fully involved and requested the audience of the representatives to put their needs across to them.

He added that the community must also protect the projects from destruction by vandals and ensure that facilities were  used responsibly.

The Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said that the main concern of NOA was how the vehicle of development in the 20th year  of uninterrupted democracy could  be made to deliver the desired gains to the people.

Represented by the state Director NOA, Abubakar Danchadi,  Abari said that was the basis for the new partnership between the agency and ICPC.

“However, since the introduction of the concept of constituency projects a number of safeguard have been evolved to avoid abuse of the process.”

He added that the new template advocated under the new partnership between NOA and ICPC was for the people to own the entire process, from conception to execution.

Earlier, the representative of Civil Society Organisations, Malam Nura Attajiri, commended ICPC and NOA for the gesture and called on elected representatives to always involve their communities in governance.

He also called on the electorate to respect their votes by  itemising their  development needs to contestants  for political  offices before voting them, rather than collecting money to vote.

Edited By: Shittu Obassa and Abdullahi Yusuf
(NAN)

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