ICPC devolves attention, says impunity more in states, LGs

•N81.23bn assets recovered, 25 convictions secured in 2019

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has resolved to, in its enforcement and prevention actions, strategically focus on states and local governments.

This resolve, according to Chairman ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was because more impunity was perpetrated at the sub-national level of government even compared to the federal level of government.

Speaking during the inauguration of the ICPC Oyo State office, Ibadan, on Wednesday, Owasanoye noted that renewed ICPC attention to states and local governments was to ensure that public funds were available and used for the good of Nigerians, at all levels.

He bemoaned that federal anti-corruption agency had overtime beamed their searchlight on the federal level, with little oversight on the sub-national, resulting in continued impunity at the state and local government level.

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In the “system study review” at the sub-national level, Owasanoye said the ICPC will look at personnel, capital, finances, procurement practices, the structure of governance, corruption disposition, integrity quotient of states and local governments to identify loopholes that will be investigated.

“There is more impunity at the sub-national level. We are a federal agency and we tend to focus more on the federal level.

“We have more facilities and human capital at the head office which is in Abuja. We do quite a lot at the federal level but our law does not restrain us from looking at sub-national.

“At the sub-national level, there is little or no oversight because virtually all the major agencies that focus on anti-corruption are federal agencies. But the law allows us to go beyond that so we are reorganizing.

“One of the things that state offices help to do is to look at the state institutions. This is because if you are able to maintain economic fidelity, stability, integrity at the state level, it will have a higher multiplier effect on governance generally.

“In terms of accurate statistics, I cannot give you but we know that there is definitely more impunity at the state level.

“Take the local government level, for example, definitely, there is a lot more challenge there. So, we will be looking at this strategically based on our manpower and funding.

“The commission has concluded plans to devolve its enforcement and prevention actions to other tiers of government in line with its statutory powers and government reform measures.

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“States and local governments will feel the impact of ICPC effort in a more strategic manner to ensure that public funds are available and used for the good of the people,” Owasanoye said.

Asked if the activities of the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Agency will not conflict with that of the ICPC, Owasanoye said the agency was not averse to states complementing its efforts in fighting corruption.

Noting that the ICPC had limited staff strength and was only present in 15 states of the country, he noted that states were also expected to tackle corruption in their own system.

“Every state has the duty to try and diminish corruption within its own system, so if a state sets up an anti-corruption agency, it can only help not conflict. Mind you our staff strength as ICPC is less than 1,000. We are supposed to be in 36 states, we are in 15 states, so Oyo state will cover the contiguous states. Clearly, if the states take the initiative, it can never be too much, it can only improve the situation,” Owasanoye said.

Meanwhile, a total of N81.23 billion worth of assets were recovered by the ICPC in 2019.

As shown in infographics of the ICPC, the assets were recovered from its operations, interim and final forfeiture.

A breakdown of assets recovered shows that money restrained on review of MDA Personnel Cost expenditure was N41.98billion; lands, building, and vehicles, N35.011billion; Cash in TSA, N1.167billion; recoveries from project tracking, N0.77billion; N0.865billion in cash (other accounts); and $1.113million in cash (other domiciliary accounts).

From 1,934 petitions received in 2019, the data shows that the commission got 25 convictions out of 105 cases filed in court.

While doing the ceremonial tape cutting to inaugurate the ICPC building, Oyo state governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde asked that the collaboration between the state and the agency in battling corruption be sustained.

Makinde, represented by Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun said the state government had shown a commitment to fighting corruption by having an Oyo state anti-corruption law and adopting inclusive budgeting procedure.

In their remarks at the event, Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Suleiman Abdul-Kyari and his House of Representatives counterpart, Honourable Garba Shehu avowed that the National Assembly will continue to give due attention to anti-corruption legislation.

Senator Abdul-Kyari particularly said the National Assembly will continue to tackle corruption by blocking procedural loopholes and correcting systemic dysfunction.

Other dignitaries present at the inauguration included Senators Abba Moro and Kola Balogun; General Officer Commanding 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Anthony Omozoje; Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon Debo Ogundoyin; Attorney General of Ogun State, Gbolahan Adeniran; members of the Oyo state executive council.

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