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Ghost Workers: ICPC grills, arrest 59 Directors over N3bn transfer

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, on Thursday, said it arrested and grilled 59 Federal Directors over their alleged complicity in the illegal transfer and diversion of N3billion appropriated for the payment of salaries, using names of ghost workers.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owosanonye, who made the disclosure to newsmen in Abuja, said some of the illegally diverted funds had since been recovered and plowed back into the coffers of the Federal Government.

He said an investigation by the anti-corruption agency revealed that most Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the government were involved in the illegal transfer of funds already budgeted to them, to other things.

Consequently, he said the ICPC under his watch has adopted a three-pronged strategy that would ensure effective tracking and monitoring of funds that are allocated to various government establishments, working in synergy with the Budget Office, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Prof. Owosanonye identified the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, as a veritable digital tool that will help the federal government to check the level of fraud in the system, even as he faulted the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, for resisting attempt to enroll its members in the scheme.

He said the ICPC had last month, restrained relevant financial regulatory agencies in the country from releasing about N9.2billion it discovered were part of excess funds that were found in accounts of some MDAs.

“I can tell you authoritatively that there is still budget padding. This is basically owing to the weakness in the oversight system. As at this morning, we also restrained another N3billion”, he added.

He said the Commission directed that the affected establishments should not be allowed access to the funds, saying “this is because as we all know, we are at the end of the year and a lot of things happen”.

He said the ICPC would soon offer suggestions on how best FG could tackle the menace of illegal diversion of public funds by top government officials.

Besides, the ICPC boss said the Commission would by next week, release the outcome of its Phase 1 report of constituency tracking projects tracking exercise it recently undertook in 12 states of the federation.

He decried that since the year 2000, over 2 trillion was spent on constituency projects without commensurate development at the grass-root level.

According to Prof. Owosanonye, following the constituency tracking exercise the ICPC launched on April 2, it was discovered that so many federal lawmakers pocketed funds they collected to provide social amenities to their constituents.

He said in some instance, it was found that some of the lawmakers channeled to assuage their personal needs, with some of the sitting projects meant for their constituency in their personal land.

The ICPC Chairman noted that though the Commission initially planned to investigate about 100 projects in the 12 states that were spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, it eventually investigated 400 projects in the selected states.

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