ICPC Investigates Dozens for Constituency Project Fraud: Over N5.6bn Recovered

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has launched investigations into the activities of approximately 50 contractors, consultants, and staff members of various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the Nigerian government. This probe, conducted under phase five of the ongoing tracking of constituency projects initiated by federal lawmakers, aims to uncover fraudulent practices associated with the allocation and execution of these projects.

Revelations from the phase five tracking report, shared by the ICPC on its verified platform, shed light on the extent of procurement fraud within the realm of Zonal Intervention Projects, commonly referred to as constituency projects. The investigation, spanning the 2019, 2020, and 2021 budget years under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, has already yielded significant findings.

According to the anti-graft agency, approximately 200 bank accounts linked to illicit activities related to these projects have been frozen. Moreover, over N5.6 billion has been recovered as cumulative savings for the Federal Government as a result of the exercise.

A spokesperson for the ICPC disclosed, “No fewer than 50 persons were detained during the investigations part of the exercise. This number includes legislators, staff of executing agencies, contractors, and consultants.”

In response to inquiries regarding the involvement of members of the 10th National Assembly in the procurement fraud, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Akin Rotimi, clarified that the implicated individuals served between 2019 and 2022, predating the tenure of the current assembly. Rotimi affirmed the commitment of the 10th National Assembly to transparency and accountability in the procurement process and pledged support for anti-corruption agencies in their efforts to ensure accountability in the execution of constituency projects.

The ICPC’s initiative to track constituency projects stems from widespread dissatisfaction with the delivery of these projects, which have been allocated substantial budgets since the year 2000. The fifth phase of tracking focused on approximately 1,377 pre-selected projects, out of which 712 projects spread across 20 states in the six geopolitical zones were ultimately selected for scrutiny.

Among the infractions uncovered during the tracking phase, the commission identified diversion of funds through soft projects and empowerment schemes, project abandonment, overpayment of contract sums, and disparity in project distribution. Notably, 331 empowerment and capacity building projects were identified as conduits for siphoning public resources and money laundering by politicians.

The tracked projects, spanning various sectors including education, water supply, agriculture, healthcare, and infrastructure, were distributed across 20 states of the federation. The ICPC remains committed to prosecuting individuals implicated in fraudulent activities related to constituency projects, including lawmakers, contractors, and public servants, in its pursuit of accountability and transparency.

Civil society organizations and human rights advocates have called for stringent prosecution of those found culpable, emphasizing the need for deterrent measures to prevent future occurrences of corruption in government projects. The outcome of the ICPC’s investigations and subsequent legal proceedings will undoubtedly shape the landscape of accountability and governance in Nigeria.

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