How junior civil servants fleece Nigeria of millions – ICPC

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has revealed how junior public servants rake in millions of naira illegally.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, said this while addressing participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies at the Abuja headquarters of the agency on Friday.

Speaking on the theme, ‘The role of the ICPC in the war against corruption: Mandate, strategies and challenges,’ the ICPC boss said there was a tendency for investigators to always go after finance directors whenever there was a probe.

He, however, said investigations had shown that junior civil servants, who go to work looking haggard, sometimes made more money than their bosses.

Nta said, “If you are probing an agency, the first person you will ordinarily want to look at is the director of finance. But investigations we have done here sometimes show otherwise. How does a protocol officer make money? Is it a high level position? No.

“But if, for instance, an organisation is sending five officers abroad for training and the chief executive signs a letter containing the names of five officers and the letter is taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a note verbal, the person who is taking the list from the chief executive to the ministry (protocol officer) adds 10 more names.

“The ministry will issue a verbal note covering 15 names and sent to the embassy involved and visas will be issued to the 15 persons without an interview. For each of the 10 extra people, the protocol officer collects N1.5m. That brings the amount to N15m.

“And this is an agency that constantly sends people abroad. Do you know how much that protocol officer is taking away? This is a protocol officer who comes to the office in slippers and a bad car, but is secretly building an estate. These are true-life stories based on our investigations.”

Nta also revealed how civil servants were collecting multiple salaries but noted that ‘ghost workers’ could no longer exploit the system due to the Bank Verification Number.

He added, “Some people have refused to come and collect their salaries. So, some of our agencies are inviting them. They did not expect that the BVN would be there. In the past, they were collecting salaries from different agencies because they had been transferred from one agency or ministry to the other but were still collecting salaries from their previous positions.”

The ICPC boss also bemoaned that many wealthy Nigerians were not paying their taxes. He said the anti-graft agency had, therefore, made it a duty to always ask for tax evidence whenever anyone was under probe.

He said, “We have, in the course of investigations, seen some very smart people who you get a petition against. On the surface, you have found nothing on him but you have found N1bn in his account and he has shown you that he has not committed any offence.

“And so, we went a step further and checked whether he has been paying his taxes. By the time we finished with investigations, that gentleman paid taxes amounting to N77m. So, it became a standard that whenever we are investigating a matter, we look at tax matter.”