ICPC probes state/LGs joint accounts

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said on Wednesday that it was probing the controversial joint accounts of states and local government councils, with the six local governments under the Federal Capital Territory as the pilot survey.

Its choice of pilot survey has reportedly led to a discovery of an alleged N82.8 million fraud in the handling of the joint accounts.

A statement issued in Abuja by the commission’s spokesperson, Mr Mike Sowe read, “the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has commenced a probe into the administration and operations of the joint account of some selected local councils in the six geo-political zones of the country starting with the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, where a pilot survey has been concluded.

“The study is a fallout from the constant public outcry that the administration of the Local Government Joint Account appears to be too cumbersome making it heavily prone to corruption.

“The objective of the exercise is meant to ascertain the level of transparency, integrity and monitoring mechanism in the disbursement and operations of the funds to local government councils through the joint account operations and to suggest reviews where necessary.

“The pilot study which covered the period between April and September, 2011 revealed that, illegal deductions of 1per cent for joint account administration, amounting to a total sum of N82, 801,953.61 were made by the FCT Joint Account Committee.

“However, it will be recalled that section 7 of the enabling Act for Joint Accounts, reserves all approving deduction rights to the National Assembly and no other authority. Therefore, a mere resolution by the committee to deduct the sum of N82, 801,953.61 for secretariat administration was illegal.

“Also, the secretariat being part of the bureaucratic structure of the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, deriving its capital and overhead cost from the ministry like any other department, does not in any way execute any project on its own, thereby raising questions as to what the funds deducted are used for,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-corruption, National Ethics and Values, on Wednesday, declared its intention to fight corruption in Nigeria to a standstill through robust oversight on anti corruption agencies and the beaming of searchlight on federal institutions, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

With oversight jurisdiction over the ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau  and Code of Conduct Tribunal, the committee affirmed that its activities would be all-encompassing.

This was stated by the committee chairman, Honourable James Faleke, at the inaugural meeting of the committee.