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General News of Saturday, 10 September 2022

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

We're probing management of Police Trust Funds over corruption allegations - ICPC Chair

Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye (Right) Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye (Right)

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said it has begun an investigation into the management of the Police Trust Fund.

The commission said its investigation focuses on abuse of office, fictitious fund diversion, questionable welfare packages, and other various corrupt practices that have characterised the management of the fund.

The Police Trust Fund Act, established in 2019, is a special intervention framework that aims to end underfunding of the police service in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, gave an insight into the investigative activities of the commission on the management of the fund at the National Policy Dialogue on “Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria” held in Abuja on Friday.

The event, which was held at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja, was organised by the commission. It had in attendance in the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, a major-general.

The ICPC boss noted that the dialogue would enable the commission, in collaboration with the security and other government agencies as well as traditional and religious institutions, to come up with workable anti-corruption and security policies to end insecurity in Nigeria.

“Funds to retool and reposition the police force to a world-class institution are no less threatened by corruption.

“The newly established police special intervention framework designed to eliminate underfunding of the police, the Police Trust Fund, is already under ICPC investigation for abuse, fund diversion bogus, questionable welfare packaging that is not for the police who are the beneficiaries of the fund and sundry corrupt practices.

“One may safely conclude that other security agencies are dogged by similar practices albeit to varying degrees,” he said.

Mr Owasanoye said the findings by the ICPC have revealed that Public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enables and fosters the menace of insecurity in the country and can sometimes complement it.

This, he said, has caused Nigerians to continue to have serious concerns about Nigeria’s escalating insecurity issues and the impact it is having on the nation’s state, economy, and reputation.

The ICPC boss also revealed that there are several instances of job racketeering in the security industry, many of which are under investigation by the commission.

Mr Owsanoye said some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and other sister agencies for embezzlement of funds allocated to security.

He said although, insecurity is perceived as something that only calls for a military response or reaction, a closer examination of its potential root causes reveals that corruption is a significant contributor to the persistence and spread of insecurity in the nation.

He added that to effectively tackle insecurity in Nigeria, Law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies, as well as security agencies (the military, intelligence, Police, Customs, Prisons, and others), would need to work together.

“At face value, insecurity is seen to be, and is sometimes treated as a matter requiring only a military response or reaction, but an in-depth look into its possible root cause(s) shows that corruption is a major contributory factor to the continued existence and propagation of insecurity in the country.

“In fact, a clinical diagnosis of the insecurity menace in the country reveals that to effectively combat insecurity we require the collaborative efforts of Security Agencies (the military, intelligence, Police, Customs, Prisons, others), as well as Law Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Agencies.

“ICPC’s research and investigation findings on the subject matter show that Public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enables insecurity, and can sometimes complement it.

“Cases of job racketeering abound in the security sector, many of which are under investigation by the ICPC,” he said.

Senate President, NSA others speakIn his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr Monguno, noted that insecurity has taken a toll on governance and public financing as a result of corruption in the security sector.

Mr Monguno said the government’s interventions through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) system have drastically reduced corruption in the public sector.

He said: “The current implementation of TSA in all MDAs of the federal government has resulted in the consolidation of more than 17000 bank accounts leading to the saving of N4 billion in bank charges.

‘Furthermore, the functions and integration of IPPIS and BVN have led to the discovery of 54000 fraudulent payrolls in the pension scheme.”

The NSA who commended some of the tools deployed by ICPC to tackle corruption in government ministries and departments advised a refocus on the root causes of corruption to enable a corrupt-free Nigeria.

Earlier, Mr Lawan, who declared the dialogue open, lamented that insecurity has affected economic growth and good governance in the country.

He said the situation has stopped rich individuals from investing in the country as well as a huge loss of Foreign Direct Investments.

The Senate President advocated joint efforts by citizens and government departments to tackle the problem of corruption, noting that the anti-corruption fight cannot be left to ICPC alone.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Mr Irabor, in his goodwill message observed that there cannot be any meaningful development in the country until corruption was fought to a standstill.

He added that the evolving nature of corruption has made it difficult for ICPC alone to fight the menace, stressing that the military would continue to support the Commission in tackling corruption.

Also in his goodwill message, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, pointed out that corruption was the reason for Nigeria being named the poverty capital of the world in 2016 by the World Bank.

He expressed the commitment of Nigerian workers to the fight against corruption, decrying how few corrupt Nigerians have given the nation a bad image.

Also present at the National Policy Dialogue were the Emir of Keffi, Mohammadu Yabusa, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Daniel Okoh, an archbishop.

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