Defence/Security

ICPC uncovers N18.62bn padding scam by MDAs

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The Independent Corrupt Practices  and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has uncovered gross abuse of personnel budget and inflation as well as padding of nominal role by some Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) amounting to N18.62 billion.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the disclosure at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector and presentation of integrity awards, organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in collaboration with ICPC, in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to him, the discovery of the scam followed the launching of the commission System Study and Review of MDA Practices, involving over 300 MDAs.

He said: “As at the time we went to press we had covered about 300 MDAs and the amount inflated was about N12billion.

“As at today your Excellency we have discovered additional N6b making a total of N18.624b restrained by ICPC.

“The exercise is still ongoing but we can confidently report that culprit MDAs are mostly academic and health institutions. For example preliminary findings show the following –

University of Benin Teaching Hospital N1.1billion; Federal Medical Center, Bayelsa N915million; Nnamdi Azikwe University N907million; University of Jos N896million; University College Hospital Ibadan N701million; Usman Dan Fodio University N636million and University of Ibadan N558million.

“These institutions and all those implicated will be given the opportunity to explain themselves however, while investigations are on to confirm any credible explanations they may have, we have alerted the Minister of Finance of our findings and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that implicated MDAs will not be able to spend the excess built into their personnel budget.

“Let me note with regret sir that in the 2017-2018 fiscal year the balances recorded for personnel were wrongfully utilized by MDAs for other purposes due to lack of pro activity by late enforcement and related agencies. That sum amounted to N18.39b.’’

In light of these findings, the ICPC Chairman stressed the need for full implementation of the presidential directive that MDAs not on IPPIS should not be paid as the commission’s review had shown that most of the guilty MDAS were not on IPPIS.

He added: “In a similar vein, we found that some MDAs spent N9.2billion of capital funds on overhead related items contrary to extant financial regulations.

“We found to our surprise that some MDAs fail to remit tax and divert pension and NHIS deductions for unrelated payments thus aggravating the sufferings of other Nigerians.

“Some MDAs abused the e-payment policy of government thus making payments through staff accounts instead of to actual beneficiaries. Most egregious in the current cycle of review is the Federal Ministry of Water Resources where N3.3billion was paid out in about a month through the accounts of staff.

“ICPC arrested 59 directors from the ministry and investigation is ongoing.’’

The chairman expressed the hope that the conversation at the two-day summit would lead to concrete suggestions towards reducing these “anomalous practices and processes that fuel corruption and undermine the development aspirations of the country’’.

He pledged that the ICPC would take enforcement actions including recovery of diverted funds, name and shame and prosecution of the most egregious cases of infractions while putting some MDAs on a watch list due to their vulnerability and propensity to corruption.

“We recommend that diversion or non-payment or remittance of tax, pension, health insurance or any statutory deduction should attract dismissal of head of the agency and immediate prosecution.

“Should government accept this recommendation ICPC will furnish government with list of defaulting MDAs,’’ he said.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

Defence/Security

NIS clarifies visa on arrival for Africans

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The Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, on Friday said the visa on arrival for holders of passports of African countries from January 2020 was to accelerate African Integration.

Babandede, who disclosed this in a statement by Mr Sunday James, the service Public Relations Officer, in Abuja said the decision would remove barriers hindering free movement of people within the continent.

“Nigeria’s strategic decision is taken to bring down barriers that have hindered free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the visa at the point of entry into Nigeria with effect from January 2020,” he said.

Babandede assured Nigerians of the service’s commitment to high professionalism in delivering its services without compromising National Security.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Babandede had on Dec. 11 announced the Federal Government decision to allow Africans into Nigeria without Visa from January 2020.

Edited by: Chidinma Agu/Ismail Abdulaziz

(NAN)

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Defence/Security

Police arrest 21 suspects for kidnapping, robbery in C/River

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The Cross River Police Command has arrested 21 suspects for various offences committed in the state between November and December, Nigeria News Agency reports.

Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Nkereuwem Akpan, who paraded the suspects on Friday at the State Police Command in Calabar, said they were arrested from different parts of the state.

Akpan explained that four of the suspects were arrested for kidnapping, eight for armed robbery, four for unlawful possession of firearms, four for cultism and one for firearm manufacturing.

He said that on assumption of office three weeks ago, he read riot act to all suspected criminals across the state to have a change of mind over crime or be arrested and prosecuted.

“The four suspects of kidnapping were arrested at various locations based on a tip off. The suspects confessed to the crime and will be charged to court as soon as investigation is completed.

“Also, the arm manufacturing suspect was arrested by a team of detectives attached to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.

“During the raid in his house in Calabar South, eight single barrels locally made pistol and one fabricated locally made berretta pistol were recovered,” he said.

The Commissioner also said that the suspected cultists were arrested for unlawful possession of firearms, adding that two locally made pistols with two live cartridges were recovered from them.

For the Christmas season, he warned those with intentions to commit crime to desist from it, saying that the police would not spare anyone involved in any form of illegality.

He, however, solicited for useful and timely information from members of the public to help the command respond to cases of emergency promptly.

Edited by: Ismail Abdulaziz

(NAN)

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Defence/Security

Yuletide: Police ban use of fireworks in Ondo

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The Ondo State Police Command has banned the use of fireworks such as bangers, knockout and other explosives during this Yuletide.

This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Femi Joseph, the Command’s Public Relations Officer(PPRO), on Friday in Akure.

“Parents and guardians are advised to warn their children and wards from using such fireworks under the guise of celebrating the Yuletide as criminals often use this opportunity to commit havoc.

“Similarly, those who engage in the sales of these items are also warned to desist from such business as buyers, users and sellers are all culpable under the law,” Joseph said.

According to him, the police command is also assuring law abiding citizens of the state of adequate protection before, during and after the Yuletide.

Edited by: tayo Ikujuni/Tukur Muntari.

(NAN)

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Defence/Security

25 persons burnt to death in Bauchi auto crash

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The police in Bauchi said on Thursday that 25 persons were burnt to death in an auto crash along Bauchi- Ningi Road in Bauchi State.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, DSP Abubakar Kamal, made this known in a statements in Bauchi.

Kamal said the accident occurred, which occurred in the early hours of Thursday, involved two vehicles; a Peugeot J5 Bus and a Toyota 18-seater Hummer bus.

The Toyota bus was conveying 22 passengers while the J5 bus was carrying 20 cows and four passengers.

He said that all the 26 passengers from the two vehicles sustained serious burns.

“The victims were immediately evacuated from the scene by security agents with assistance of good samaritans to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi for treatment.

“Unfortunately, on reaching the hospital, 25 passengers were confirmed dead by the Chief Medical Director, Dr Mohammed Alkali, while one survived and is receiving treatments.

“Investigation has revealed that all the passengers inside the Toyota Hummer bus took off from Dutsinma in Katsina State on their way to Adamawa State while the passengers inside the J5 bus were from Bauchi going to Kano State,” Kamal said.

He said that four corpses from the J5 bus were immediately identified by their families and released for burial while the remaining 21 corpses inside the Toyota Hummer bus are yet to be claimed.

The PPRO, therefore, called on members of the public whose family members left Katsina for Yola on Thursday and were still unable to reach them to check at the ATBUTH.

Edited by: Josephine Obute/Ismail Abdulaziz

(NAN)

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Defence/Security

Abia CP confirms killing of fruit vendor in Umuahia

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The Abia police command has confirmed the death of one Miss Kasarachi Okwuonu, a fruit vendor, who was reportedly hit by a “stray bullet” during a crossfire between the police and alleged armed bandits at Apumiri, the headquarters of Umuahia south council area.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Ene Okon, told newsmen in Umuahia that he was briefed about the incident by the head of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) upon his return from Abuja.

He said that the incident happened on Wednesday night, when a team from SARS that responded to a distress call concerning a robbery reportedly engaged the suspects in a gun battle.

He said that the gunmen, numbering five and in army camouflage, were operating in the area, using a Toyota RAV4 .

“On sighting the SARS team, the gang opened fire and SARS operatives exchanged fire with the robbers.

“In the exchange of fire, a stray bullet hit the victim, who was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was later confirmed dead.”

Okon dismissed speculations that the deceased was either shot directly or killed by accidental discharge.

He said, “There was nothing like accidental discharge or direct firing at the victim.”

He said that the Toyota Sienna van used by the SARS operatives was riddled with bullets from the hoodlums.

However, an eyewitness account said that there was no case of robbery in the area as alleged by the police.

He said that the incident occurred around 10 pm, when SARS operatives were on their routine patrol of the area.

He alleged that the operatives were in the habit of harassing and arresting commercial motorcyclists in the area once it became late.

He further said that those arrested and detained were usually made to pay as much as between N30,000 and N50,000 for their bail.

The eyewitness said that it was during an encounter between the SARS men and motorcyclists that one of them pulled the trigger that shot and killed Kasarachi.

“There was no robbery in this place at all. We saw what happened and we can identify the policeman who pulled the trigger,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

It was further learnt that the decessed was hit by the bullet while returning from a filling station, where she had gone to pack her wares at the end of the day’s business.

The decessed was described as the breadwinner of her family.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner said that he had set up a panel from the State Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the circumstances that led to the death.

Nigeria News Agency reports that youths of Mgbarakuma Ubakala, where the deceased hailed from, took to the streets on Thursday to protest what they termed the “cold-blooded murder” of their sister.

(Edited by: Sam Oditah)
(NAN)
(NAN)

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