The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has commenced the process of disposal of assets forfeited to the federal government in line with the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA) signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 12th of May, 2022, with a bid opening to select auctioneers.
The chairman of the ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, while speaking on the issue, hailed the impact of the law on the anti-corruption war and described it as a tool which brought clarity and purpose to the previously murky waters of asset recovery and management.
According to the chairman, the unregulated structure surrounding forfeited assets often led to huge revenue loses which ultimately defeated the purpose of recovery.
He further stated that the Proceeds of Crime Act introduced a standardized procedure for management and disposal of forfeited assets, helped set up a governing directorate, and ensured that all processes were deliberated on and executed by professionals who were experts in relevant fields. This, he said, promotes transparency and prioritizes corruption prevention.
The ICPC boss also highlighted the fact that each agency that recovers assets was responsible for the disposal of the forfeited assets and the process was tamper-proof as it instructs that all proceeds be lodged in a dedicated account, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria and accessible only at the discretion of the National Assembly and the President.
Still speaking on the law, the ICPC boss revealed that ICPC has an Asset Recovery and Management manual which provides the guidelines to ensure all processes are governed and controlled.
He also pointed out that the Commission had, in line with the POCA, set up a committee which comprised of board members, directors, representatives of labour, civil society organisations, media and Bureau of Public Procurement to administer the bid process.
He expressed delight that the Commission is amongst the first to carry out an auction based on the POCA and suggested that the success of the process would ultimately encourage other agencies to follow suit.
Similarly, ICPC is set to commence the Phase 5 of the constituency and executive projects tracking exercise, following the successful completion of the 4th phase earlier in the year.
The states are Kaduna, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Borno, Bauchi, and Gombe states.
The ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua said the 5th phase, involving 712 government-funded projects, will commence on the 8th of November, 2022 in the 20 states cutting across the six geopolitical zones.
The ICPC said as with other tracking exercises carried out by ICPC since the kick-off in 2019, the objective of the Phase 5 is to investigate fraudulent procurement practices in the award of contracts for the selected projects across the country.
The aim is to ensure that all government funded projects are executed fully to their specifications and to make recoveries where the project costs are inflated by contractors or are poorly executed.
The Commission, had in the 4th Phase of the exercise, successfully tracked 538 projects across nine focal areas of Health, Education, Power, Water Resources, Works, Housing, Agriculture, Transport and Environment.
The exercise was conducted in 19 states across the six geopolitical zones and the FCT including Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Borno and FCT.
The ICPC said some of the findings from the Phase 4 exercise include discovery of N7.1 billion worth of padded projects, some contractors who had abandoned project sites being compelled to return to different sites to complete N10.9 billion worth of projects, while N6.8 billion worth of recoveries (cash and assets) have been made so far.
Also, 109 out of the 543 selected projects in Phase 4, amounting to N1,176,867,800 were found to have been inserted, which effectively turned them into Zonal Intervention Projects. Intelligence revealed that the insertions were done by both legislators and some members of the executive arm of the government in the budget-making process.
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