The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has disclosed that its preliminary findings reveal that 300 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have inflated their payroll by N12 billion.
ICPC Chairman Balaji Owasanoye made the disclosure at the opening of a two-day National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector and presentation of integrity awards, jointly organised the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and ICPC.
According to Owasanoye, “Part of our preliminary findings, the summary of which are included in a visual narrative in your folders, revealed gross abuse of personnel budget and inflation or padding of the nominal role.
“As at the time we went to press, we had covered about 300 MDAs and the amount inflated was about N12 billion. As at today, your Excellency, we have discovered an additional N6 billion, making a total of N18.624 billion restrained by ICPC.
“The exercise is still ongoing, but we can confidently report that culprit MDAs are mostly academic and health institutions. For example, preliminary findings show the following: University of Benin Teaching Hospital, N1.1 billion; Federal Medical Center, Bayelsa, N915 million; Nnamdi Azikwe University, N907 million; University of Jos, N896 million; University College Hospital, Ibadan, N701 million; Usman Dan Fodio University, N636 million; and University of Ibadan N558 million.”
The ICPC Chairman said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been alerted to ensure the affected issues do not spend in excess of their budgets.
“These institutions and all those implicated will be given the opportunity to explain themselves. However, while investigations are on to confirm any credible explanations they may have, we have alerted the Minister of Finance of our findings and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that implicated MDAs will not be able to spend the excess built into their personnel budget,” Owasanoye said.
“Let me note with regret, sir, that in the 2017-2018 fiscal year the balances recorded for personnel were wrongfully utilized by MDAs for other purposes due to lack of proactivity by law enforcement and related agencies. That sum amounted to N18.39 billion,” he said, addressing President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the special guest speaker at the event.
“In light of these findings, sir, we encourage full implementation of your directive that MDAs not on IPPIS should not be paid as our review shows that most of the guilty MDAS are not on IPPIS.
“In a similar vein, we found that some MDAs spent N9.2 billion of capital funds on overhead related items contrary to extant financial regulations.
“We found to our surprise that some MDAs fail to remit tax and divert pension and NHIS deductions for unrelated payments, thus aggravating the sufferings of other Nigerians.
“Some MDAs abused the e-payment policy of government, thus making payments through staff accounts instead of to actual beneficiaries. Most egregious in the current cycle of review is the Federal Ministry of Water Resources where N3.3 billion was paid out in about a month through the accounts of staff. ICPC arrested 59 directors from the ministry and investigation is ongoing.
“We hope that the conversation we will have in this one and a half day summit will lead to concrete suggestions towards reducing these anomalous practices and processes that fuel corruption and undermine the development aspirations of the country. ICPC will take enforcement actions, including recovery of diverted funds, name and shame and prosecution of the most egregious cases of infractions, while putting some MDAs on a watch list due to their vulnerability and propensity to corruption.”
Owasanoye recommended that those found guilty of diversion and non-remittance be dismissed and face prosecution.
According to the ICPC Chairman, “We recommend that diversion or non payment or remittance of tax, pension, health insurance or any statutory deduction should attract dismissal of head of the agency and immediate prosecution. Should government accept this recommendation, ICPC will furnish government with list of defaulting MDAs.”