Buhari talks tough on graft as ICPC uncovers N20.138b duplicated projects

Buhari talks tough on graft as ICPC uncovers N20.138b duplicated projects
President Mohammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, vowed sanctions against those behind illegal recruitment into the public service, payroll padding and retention of ghost workers.

Issuing the warning at the opening of the third National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, with the theme: “Corruption and Cost of Government, New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency,” organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the President stated that his administration would not hesitate to punish heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that fraudulently present new projects as ongoing ones in the yearly budget.

“We reduced the cost of governance by maintaining our promise to complete abandoned or ongoing projects commenced by previous administrations and have ensured that MDAs do not put forward new capital projects at the expense of ongoing projects.

“Government has, however, noted from the activities of the ICPC that some MDAs have devised the fraudulent practice of presenting new projects as ongoing projects,” he said.

Highpoint of the event attended by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad and a representative of Senate President Ahmad Lawan was the presentation of the 2021 Public Service Integrity awards to three distinguished Nigerians.

They are Deputy Director, Legal, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Nelson Okoronkwo, Assistant Commander of Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Muhammad Ahmad, and an Imo State PhD student studying in Japan, Ikenna Nweke.

In his goodwill message, Justice Muhammad urged more patriotic acts to improve Nigeria’s global corruption perception index.

THIS is even as the ICPC said it had uncovered 257 duplicated projects amounting to N20.138 billion during a review of the 2021 budget.

Its Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who made the disclosure at the event, said the anti-graft agency also discovered a syndicate within the service, who corruptly employ unsuspecting Nigerians, issue them fake employment letters, fraudulently enrol them on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and post them to unsuspecting MDAs.

He said his organisation had already begun prosecution of one of the leaders of the syndicate, whose custody led to the retrieval of several fake letters of recommendation purportedly signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, ministers, the Federal Civil Service Commission and other high-ranking Nigerians, among others.

Owasanoye added that ICPC’s tracking covered 1,083 projects across the federation, with exception of Borno and Zamfara states due to their security challenges.

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