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N16,4m fraud: ICPC closes its case against ex-IGP Ehindero, one other

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The ICPC on Wednesday closed its case against former Inspector-General of Police(I-G) Sunday Ehindero, and former  Commissioner of Police, John Obaniyi, after calling four witnesses in the alleged N16.4 million fraud charge. preferred against them.

The ICPC Counsel, Zainab Nass at the resumed hearing, told an FCT High Court Apo, that the prosecutions rests its case.

NNN reports that Ehindero, who succeeded the convicted Tafa Balogun as IG in 2004, was said to have allegedly diverted funds from the account of the police.

He was arraigned in 2012.

The ICPC alleged that Ehindero and Obaniyi allegedly conspired and criminally convert public funds totaling N16. 4 million being interests generated from the sum of N300 million police money he had placed in two fixed deposit accounts at Wema Bank Plc and the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc.

Following  Nass’ information, counsel to Ehindero, Kelvin Omoraw, moved to file a no-case submission and requested to be given 14 days to file, while Samuel Odariko representing Obaniyi also aligned with him and made the same request.

After listening to the two counsel, Justice Sylvanus Oriji, ordered the defence counsel to take 14 days to file his no case submission.

Orji adjourned the case until June 19, for adoption of written address for no case submissions.

NNN reports that on March 25, while testifying, a principal witness, Mr Aibangbe Maifuwa, a Business Development Manager with WEMA Bank Plc, said N10.3 million was part of proceeds from N300 million police fund he allegedly kept in a fixed deposit account with the bank.

The banker, who was led in evidence by Nass, told the court that the retired police boss had fixed the money at a 10 per cent interest rate per annum, between July 11, 2006 and January 19, 2007.

In his response to questions put to him during cross-examination by Ehindero’s lawyer, the banker said the former IGP had written to the bank requesting that the accrued interest on the N300 million fixed deposit, amounting to the sum of N10. 3 million be paid to him in cash, while the principal sum be paid through a WEMA bank cheque in his favour.

edited by Shittu Obassa/Sadiya Hamza

General news

ICPC recovers over N81bn assets in one year

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) has recovered assets worth N81.23 billion In the last one year.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at a media briefing to mark the first anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term administration.

Mohammed who said that the past one year of the administration has been momentous, stressed that the fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of the government had continued unabated

He said the leading anti-corruption agencies had been unrelenting in facing down

the canker worm of corruption.

In the breakdown of the recoveries by the ICPC, the minister said that N41.98 billion   was restrained on review of MDAs’ Personnel Cost Expenditure and Capital Development Fund.

He said N35.011 billion was recovered in lands, buildings  and vehicles, N1.167 billion as cash in Treasury Single Account while N0.77 billion forms recoveries from constituency projects tracked.

The minister said that N 1.097 billion was recovered  in completed constituency projects upon return of contractors to site,  N 0.865 billion Cash in Other Accounts and 1.113 million dollars cash in domiciliary account.

He said the Commission has also established a Constituency Project Tracking Group,

named Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Group, to track performance of publicly-funded projects.

Mohammed said that the projects targeted are those with immediate impact on the livelihood of ordinary Nigerians.

424 of such projects were tracked within the period under review, which led to the

completion of several abandoned projects and recovery of billions of Naira on some of the projects.

“Number of completed constituency projects in education, health, water resources, agriculture and other sectors increased to over 400 nationwide, from those that were

specifically monitored.

Furthermore, over 300 contractors who had abandoned projects returned to site in various parts of the country.

In the area of prosecution, the minister said the Commission secured 25 convictions in

the past one year.

He said the commission received 1934 petitions within the period under review and concluded investigations on 588 petitions while 105 cases were filed in court.

The minister said the ICPC has also escalated the use of administrative sanctions in the

public service by periodically submitting, for sanction, names of public servants being prosecuted, in line with extant public service rules.

He said 62 names were submitted to government for sanction in 2019.

“On its prevention mandate, the Commission reviewed the personnel and capital fund expenditure of 201 MDAs.

“This activity led to the restraining of about N42 billion on inflated personnel cost which

would otherwise have been diverted by MDAs mostly in health and education sectors,” he said

Similarly, the minister said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured 1,270 convictions including high profile ones.

Mohammed said that the Anti graft commission recovered huge amounts of money within the period under review.

The recoveries, according to the minister included, N32.6 billion , 10,348 Dollar, 758,155 Pounds Sterling; 183,475 Euros; 294,950 Saudi Riyal; 2,800 Chinese Yuan; 300 Canadian Dollars and 500 CFA.

He said the example was the liquidation and forfeiture of the P&ID Nigeria Limited to the Federal Government, after the conviction of the company for fraud and tax

evasion.

The minister hailed the President  for taking a bold step in signing  Executive Order Number 10 on the implementation of financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary,

He said the decision would strengthen the institutions at the state level and make them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.

ROT/

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Defence/Security

ICPC investigating cases of COVID-19 fraud — official 

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it is investigating alleged cases of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds and palliatives.

The commission’s Director of Operations, Mr Akeem Lawal, disclosed this during a virtual meeting of stakeholders on the topic, “COVID-19 Funds Management and Monitoring”, on Thursday.

In a presentation titled, “ICPC Monitoring Obligation and Strategy Re: COVID-19 Emergency”, Lawal said the cases include alleged fraud by some participating public institution in the release and distribution of grains from strategic food reserve.

Others, according to him, include alleged infractions in the procurement of COVID-19 palliatives and logistics and community enlightenment activities.

The ICPC official, who did not mention names, said there were cases of state governments using the pandemic to “financially exploit local governments”.

He said there was also case of diversion of “COVID-19 logistics and contingency emergency fund into personal account.

“In all cases of infraction, culprits will be investigated and prosecuted,” the director said.

He added that the ICPC was monitoring distribution of money and food under the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and the Home School Feeding Programme.

Lawal stated that the commission’s intervention in the COVID-19 fund management was pursuant to its corruption prevention, enforcement and public sensitisation mandate.

He further said that the aim was to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilisation of the funds as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dr Dotun Adebayo, Special Adviser to the President on School Feeding Programme, said the government was targeting 3,131,971 households in the Home School Feeding Programme.

He stated this in a presentation on behalf of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) titled, “NHGSFP Response Plan: Delivering a Transparent Food Ration Distribution”.

Adebayo said each household would get a food ration package worth N4,200 on the presumption of an average of three children per household.

According to him, a package contains five kilogrammes each of rice and beans; 500 milligrammes of vegetable oil, 750 milligrammes of palm oil, 500 gramme of salt, 15 eggs and 140 grammes of tomato paste.

“We normally expend N1,400 per child per 20 days when schools are open

“Fortunately, we had existing fund to cover 20-day circle in April for 35 states before schools were closed due to the COVId-19 lockdown,” he said.

The presidential aide said the government was leveraging the existing structure of the programme to deliver the food items to the beneficiaries.

Also, Chairman of ICPC,  Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye in his welcome address said that the Commission in March, issued an advisory on response management for  COVID-19 fund.

“We followed it up by setting a committee to monitor the use of contribution and funds during the emergency because such period could trigger higher level of corruption.

“We appointed observers at a request of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to focus on some key MDAs who will be involved in procurement and in response to COVID-19.

“We followed it up by issuing some prevention guidelines which were not mandatory but took from financial regulations and laws to guide MDAs on what we will be doing.

The Account-General Office, followed by issuing very comprehensive frameworks for the management of COVID-19 fund under the treasury single account (TSA),” he said.

The chairman, however, gave assurance that the Commission would monitor all donations made by private sectors to ensure transparency and accountability.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Ismail Abdulaziz (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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Defence/Security

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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General news

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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General news

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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Defence/Security

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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