COVID-19: Nigeria’s ICPC Discovers School Feeding Funds In Private Accounts

An anticorruption agency in Nigeria has discovered over N5 billion in private hands. The head of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the agency found N2.67bn meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts. An additional N2.5billion was found in the accounts of a deceased staff of the ministry of Agriculture.

Other things were discovered from the ministry such as 25 plots of land, 18 buildings and 12 business premises. All illegally diverted to private hands.

The professor of law made the announcement in Abuja. He was speaking second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

The summit had the theme, ‘Together against corruption’, also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He explained further that between January and August 2020, investigations revealed that Open Treasury Portal showed that of 268 ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) 72 had infraction totaling N90milillion.

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Also, 33 MDAs gave full explanation for N4.1billion transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account while N4.2 billion that had been paid to individuals could not be satisfactorily explained.

The professor added, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67bn during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts.”

In continuation of the agencies investigation called Constituency Tracking Initiative from last year, the ICPC also reviewed constituency and executive project. In all, 722 projects with a threshold of N100m (490 ZIP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states. He said the commission had special attention to track projects in agriculture, water resources, power, education and health.

The Constituency Tracking Initiative is meant to investigate fraudulent procedure and practices in the award of contracts for constituency and executive projects. And to make recoveries on projects or contracts confirmed to have been inflated or in which contractors under-performed or did not perform at all. The professor explained that projects tracked at phase one were selected by the steering committee comprising Budget Office, Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Media, CSOs and the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

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The ICPC helmsman said the 2020 exercise showed some improvement in project delivery, but the commission was faced with many challenges.

In details, Owasanoye said, “We discovered that a number of projects described in the budget as ongoing were new projects.”

“We discovered that projects are recommended for communities that do not need them. Such projects are abandoned, in spite of the huge sums appropriated for them.”

“We discovered that projects were sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common assets to personal use and totally denying communities expected to benefit,” he adds.

The chairman said that the commission’s effort had forced 59 contractors handling projects worth N2.25 billion, back to sites, while it recovered and returned to beneficiaries assets worth about N700 million and cash of almost N200 million.

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Owasanoye, said that the commission would, in future, prosecute false description of projects as ongoing, in accordance with extant rules. All affected projects have been listed in the ICPC’s Interim Report for 2020.


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