The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is not surprised by the interest generated by the report by Mr. Tom Chiahemen, Publisher of an Abuja based Newspaper, National Accord, published through the social media africanexaminer.com on Thursday, 7th March 2013 and other papers, where he regaled the reading public of his invitation to ICPC. It is germane to note that ICPC does not publish details of its interrogations so as not to put a suspect or witness at a disadvantage before the court. ICPC will not at this time of its existence learn how to write with the ‘left hand’ given its well-known human rights by not lending itself to be used to either curtail the freedom of citizens or hound perceived political opponents.
For record purposes, Mr. Chiahemen’s invitation by ICPC’s was at the instance of the Commission’s External Solicitor to clarify certain issues relating to issuance and sighting of receipts in respect of monies paid by the Federal Ministry of Education through Cattigan Communications Limited. This is an ongoing case which commenced since February 2010 at High Court 4, Abuja vide Charge CR/44/10: Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Yusuf Agabi, Dr. Okey Ikechukwu and Mr. Stanley Brown (who were at the material time all members of Staff or Media Consultant of the Federal Ministry of Education). From his media expose, Mr. Chiahemen has averred that at the material time, between 2006 and 2007, he was not only the Chairman of the Cattigan Communications Limited but also a Correspondent of Daily Independent Newspapers assigned to cover activities in the Education Sector, as well as being a member of the Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ECAN). Whilst still functioning in all three capacities, he was in 2006, appointed as a Media Agent by the Ministry of Education. His expose further established the matrix between his concurrent status as employee, Consultant, FME Agent, ECAN member and the methodology of the procurement and administration of the said media contracts/services in a matter that has been in the court since 2006.
Since this matter has been in Court since 2010 and therefore sub judice, ICPC calls on discerning Nigerians, and other interested parties like Human Rights Writers Association (HRWA), to note the line of questioning and the responses thereto and make their conclusions on the issues voluntarily broadcast to the world by Mr. Tony Chiahemen on Thursday, 7th March 2013 as shown in the excerpts below:
“One of the ICPC officials did ask me how much of the money went to Dr Okey Ikechukwu and I said as far as the adverts placed in the print media were concerned each of the correspondents was required to forfieit one (1%) of their commission to Cattigan Communications to settle the bank’s COT while each correspondent who was a member of Education Correspondent Association Of Nigeria( ECAN), contributed 5% of their commission to the treasurer of the association”.
“The ICPC officials further questioned the propriety of me working with Daily Independent and at the same time running Cattigan Communications Ltd which according to them, was performing similar functions as my employer, Daily Independent. I tried unsuccessfully to educate them that Cattigan Communications was only a consulting firm and that I wasn’t running it full time nor was the company competing with daily Independent”.
” The issue of receipt and invoices used in the transactions also came up. The ICPC wanted me to show evidence that what the Federal Ministry Of Education was paid to the various newspapers listed and if so where are the receipts (not invoices attached) from those papers?”
“I explained to the lady the circumstances that led to the appointment of Cattigan Communication Ltd to handle media buying/placements during the Education Sector Reform Program me of the Ezekwesili/Obasanjo administration. I told her the company was nominated and presented to the ministry by correspondents of the various national media organisations covering education sector, under the umbrella organisation of. Education Correspondents Association Of Nigeria(ECAN)
In conclusion, ICPC disassociates and distance itself from the innuendos and insinuations given to Mr. Chiahemen’s report especially by persons, who by their training and disposition could have sought clarification from the Commission.