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Fear grips lawmakers as FG begins probe of constituency projects

By Ejike Ejike, Abuja on 18/06/2019

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 •ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye
•ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye

The federal government has taken its ant-corruption war to the National Assembly and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Under the new offence designed to check the siphoning of public funds through questionable projects, the government mandated the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to probe the constituency projects initiated by lawmakers in 12 states selected from the six geo-political zones of the country.

And in line with the mandate, the ICPC will today begin the verification and tracking of projects which have been identified in some selected states, with two states in each zone.

In the North Central, ICPC officials will visit Kogi and Benue states, Adamawa and Bauchi states in the Northeast, and Sokoto and Kano states in the Northwest.

Others are South-East: Imo and Enugu states; South-West has Lagos and Osun states and South-South, Akwa Ibom and Edo states. The 12 states fall under the first phase of the ICPC probe.

LEADERSHIP learnt that during the probe, the ICPC would invite former and re-elected members of the 9th National Assembly to indicate the locations of the projects and the cost.

It was gathered that the move has caused fears among members of the 8th Assembly and those who were re-elected and recently inaugurated.

Officials of the executing agencies are also allegedly worried over the latest move of the federal government.

President Muhammadu Buhari has severally accused the National Assembly of paddling the national budgets through constituency projects.

A brief of the project monitoring or tracking group obtained by LEADERSHIP showed that the site visits by the team will involve the ICPC and representatives of other members of the steering committee as well as competent officers from the executing agency for each project.

The mandate of the tracking team include to investigate fraudulent procurement practices in the award of contracts for the construction of the projects, with potential to impact the lives of ordinary Nigerians; monitor in collaboration with the official stakeholders, the implementation and construction of the projects from inception to completion; make recoveries on project contracts confirmed to have been inflated.

The Constituency Projects’ Tracking Group (CPTG), which is aimed at monitoring the funds released for the affected projects and how they are being utilised, was launched on April 2, 2019.

While launching the programme, the ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, had said: “Constituency projects are intended for developmental projects such as the provision of water, rural electrification, rural clinics, schools, community centres, and bursary for indigent students. Over the years, constituency projects have become enmeshed in controversy between non-state actors, the promoters of the projects, and the communities that are supposed to benefit from the projects. The concern is that in Nigeria, rather than address the needs of constituents, many constituency projects have become avenues for corruption.

“Given the controversy, Nigerians have questioned the transparency of selection of projects and allocation of funds in the budgets of MDAs. Selection of contractors is also enmeshed in disputes. Critical analysis of the capital expenditure of some MDAs has led to the allegation that the capital budgets of some agencies may be a conduit for corrupt enrichment,” he said.

•Excerpted from a LEADERSHIP report.

Source News Express

Posted 18/06/2019 12:50:55 PM

 

 

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