The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has restrained N12.2billion in the recurrent expenditure portal of some ministries, departments and agencies.
As a result of this, the affected MDAs will not be able to access the cash now rated as “suspicious funds.”
Besides, N3billion has been recovered from 59 directors in a ministry after splitting the cash for questionable operational expenses.
He said the agency had so far investigated 400 constituency projects adding that about 200 contractors rushed back to sites following the intervention of the agency.
About N2trillion has been spent on Constituency Projects in the last 19 years but many of the projects are uncompleted.
He said 50 per cent of constituency projects of Senators and members of the House of Representatives were “based on empowerment and capacity building, which were difficult to measure or ascertain if they were executed.”
The ICPC chairman said: “While we set out to evaluate less than 100 projects, we ended up with 400 projects. About 317 companies were profiled for the first phase. So, over 400 projects were investigated because a number of projects were about three built into one.
“In some cases where what was spent on projects was far less than the amount voted, we recovered the difference.
“Our objective was to make sure that there was value for money. So, if we found a tractor in a Senator’s house (as part of constituency projects), we always retrieve. Instead of hauling some of these lawmakers to court where the case will go ad ifnitum, we opted to
On System Study, Owasanoye said ICPC had restrained some MDAs from accessing about N12.9billion
“We restrained N9.2billion. We have an additional N3billion restrained. I can authoritatively tell you that there is still a lot of padding in some of these agencies. We got the agencies to write to admit the excess funds and we communicated the Ministry of Finance.
“We have powers under our law to freeze assets and to recover assets. If there is an appropriation for ICPC under the Government Information and Financial Management System (GIFMS), if you have one million appropriated for ICPC for capital and one million for your personnel, you will see it; the Minister of Finance will see it, Accountant –General of the Federation will see it.
“So, for some of the agencies that we went to, before we went to them, we had done our homework to see what was showing and what was left of their budget. We had noted it but cannot seize it. But we can say don’t release it to them anymore.
“Notionally, if N1billion is showing on your personnel and you have given me payment for right up to July, everybody has been paid and nobody has demonstrated that salary is withheld and you confirmed that yes, we have paid all salaries. Then why are we still having money in salary vault and don’t forget, government releases salaries monthly, it does not give you in advance. It is as revenue comes into government purse that government will release.
“When we see that you have paid your staff and there is extra, we can restrain you from spending the money that is there.”
“Our investigation showed that agencies were able to spend money that is meant for salaries for other things like travels, DTAs and all manner of things that they should not have done. That is why I used the word restrained. The money was there, I wrote to the minister that the money should not be released. And of course it was taken and nobody has protested, rather, those who are begging are begging. So, that is the position.”
Owasanoye said the discovery of unspent funds in the recurrent portals of some MDAs accounted for “why they are employing to fill in the gaps.”
He confirmed that 59 directors allegedly used N3billion for operational expenses which could not be accounted for.
He said: “About the 59 directors, yes it was in one ministry. The amount involved was N3billion. Their argument is that the money was used for operational work that they had a duty to do.
“So, we said we wanted proof because we saw that the money was paid through the accounts of staff and under the public service rules, you cannot do that. There is a limit to the amount you can pay to the account of a staff.
“We were checking one by one. If you said N10million was paid into your account for a project in a place, we would sit down together to see that, even though it is wrong, it was used for the purpose. If it was not used for a purpose and there is a gap, we asked them to refund the gap to the government.
“It is an indication of the kind of weakness within our system that we need to take corrective measures about.
He pleaded with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to allow the varsity system to join the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS).
Owasanoye added: “A lot of infractions are in the universities and medical institutions. It is unfortunate that academic institutions top the list. I am one of them but I do hope we will get past this resistance.
“The Senior Staff Association has agreed, I plead with ASUU to allow IPPIS in our universities.”