The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, has threatened to take appropriate action against any state governor that diverts the recent bail-out funds handed over to them by the Federal Government to pay the backlog of staff salaries.
The Chairman, who issued the warning in Abuja during the handing over ceremony of N980.2 million looted from the Federal Ministry of Environment and three Federal Government Colleges, said that the Commission was monitoring the application of the funds by the governors, and would not hesitate to take action against any of them that fails to use the money for its purpose.
He said, “We like to monitor what is going on with the bail-out funds because there are concerns that the funds are not going to the purpose that they are meant for. The issue of running after funds when they have been appropriated will not happen concerning the bail-out funds. We will follow the funds to see how they are being disbursed and will not wait for petitions before going after any defaulting governor.”
The Chairman, based on a court order, handed over N980, 211, 086 million that was looted by fraudsters from the accounts of the Federal Ministry of Environment and the three schools namely, Federal Government College (FGC), Odogbolu, Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), Sagamu and Federal Science Technical College (FSTC), Ijebu-Imushin, all in Ogun State.
Mr. Nta who narrated how the money was stolen said that N945 million was stolen from the Federal Ministry of Environment by one Adeolu Olugbenga Adeyanju who used a forged payment mandate of the ministry to steal the funds from First City Monument Bank plc, where the account of the ministry was domiciled.
He added that N103 million belonging to the three schools was allegedly stolen by a Federal Government Pay Officer in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The stolen funds of the Ministry were meant for the Great Green Wall Programme of the Federal Government targeted at checking desert encroachment in 11 northern states through tree planting, while that of the schools were meant for school feeding of students and other projects.
The ICPC Chairman while handing over the funds said, “The Commission is today returning to some victims of corrupt practices, stolen public funds recovered from certain individuals in fulfillment of one of our duties in Section 6 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
‘On the 1st of December, 2014, we received a petition from the Ministry of Environment in respect of a fraudulent electronic funds transfer from its accounts. A forged payment mandate in the sum of N924 million was presented to First City Monument Bank plc where the ministry’s account was domiciled. The funds were diverted to a different company’s accounts.
‘The funds being returned today, pursuant to a court order, represent actual recovered proceeds by ICPC and a retained default guaranteed sum all amounting to N924 million.”
The Chairman added that the Commission was still tracing more missing funds belonging to the Ministry which were allegedly stolen by Adeyanju.
“In furtherance of this case, ICPC is still tracking and investigating the movement of N468, 794, 613.79 through some financial institutions (Bureau de Change) by Adeolu Adeyanju, the main accused, who is currently facing charges before the FCT High Court 4, Maitama, Abuja for forgery, theft, conspiracy and being in possession of forged documents”, he added.
In the case of the schools, Mr. Nta said, “This second case involved the alleged diversion of funds meant for meal subsidies of students and capital projects of three Federal Government Colleges namely: Federal Science Technical College Ijebu-Imushin, Federal Government Girl’s College, Sagamu and Federal Government College, Odogbolu respectively, by the Federal Pay Officer in Abeokuta, Ogun State who was reported to ICPC by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
‘The Commission has so far recovered the sum of N56, 211, 086.23 out of the total sum of N103, 000, 000.00 which the suspect allegedly diverted.
‘In view of the time-specific nature of the services these monies were meant for, especially the feeding of students, ICPC sought and received court orders to return same to the victims whilst the substantive prosecution cases, recoveries and investigations continue.”
The Commission has so far recovered N924 million for the Ministry and N56 million for the schools, which have all been handed over to representatives of their owners. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Nana Fatima Mede received for the ministry while the Principals of the schools received the funds for their schools respectively. They include: Mrs. Bassey Duke who received N20, 122, 314.23 for FGC Odogbolu, Mrs. A. Okpara who collected N8, 410, 000 for FSTC, Ijebu-Imushin and Mrs. Agnes Owolabi who also received N28, 047, 648 FGC Sagamu.
Mrs. Mede while receiving the money on behalf of the Ministry lamented that N945 million stolen by the culprit would have been able to “dig 1000 bore holes and plant 1000 trees in the desert affected states of Adamawa, Yobe, Borno and Sokoto.”
She lamented further that over 43 million Nigerians had suffered from the menace of desert encroachment, adding that the Ministry was grateful to ICPC for tackling the problem with promptness.
She said, “N945 million was transferred when I was just two weeks old in the Ministry. I phoned the Chairman because I knew that he would get to the bottom of the matter. I am indeed happy that we have not been proven wrong.”
The Principal of FGC, Sagamu, Mrs. Owolabi who spoke for her colleagues commended ICPC for helping the schools recover their stolen money. She said the action of the suspect has created so many problems for the managements of the schools.
According to her, “With thorough investigation by ICPC, we are here today, we have suffered so much from our food contractors but thank God; we have recovered what belongs to us. We promise to use the money judiciously for what it was meant for.”