The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has disclosed various measures being taken to ensure transparency, accountability and rectitude in the management of the Federal Government’s Covid-19 management funds and palliatives.
These were part of the highlights of a Zoom Webinar tagged: Covid-19 Funds Management and Monitoring: Preventing a Slide into Old Habits organised by the Commission and anchored by its Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye.
In a presentation titled “ICPC Monitoring Obligation and Strategy Re: COVID-19 Emergency”, the Director of Operations of the Commission, Mr. Akeem Lawal disclosed that the Commission was investigating reports of alleged diversion of COVID-19 logistics/contingency funds into personal accounts.
He said there were also alleged fraud by some public institutions involved in the release and distribution of grains from the strategic food reserve and that there were also alleged infractions in the procurement of COVID-19 palliatives and logistics, as well as in the handling of funds for community sensitisation activities.
Mr. Lawal said another issue being investigated by the Commission was the report that state governments were using the pandemic to “financially exploit local governments”. He however emphasised that the reports, at the moment, can only be regarded as allegations and were being investigated, saying that enforcement action would be taken if they were found to be true.
He noted that at the beginning of the lockdown in March, ICPC had issued an advisory to officials that would be involved in managing the pandemic not to see it as an opportunity for corruption, and that at the instance of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 Management (PTF) , the Commission had also appointed observers to work closely with it.
He said the Commission further constituted an independent in-house monitoring team which tracks all activities relating to Covid-19 funds management as well as disbursements of palliatives; all in a bid to prevent corruption in the pandemic management processes, noting that by and large, major signals received indicated that there has been some caution in the overall handling of the funds.
The Accountant- General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, in his presentation titled ”Framework for the Management of Covid-19 Funds under TSA” mentioned some of the measures adopted by his office to ensure good utilization of the funds. These include:
– Publishing Expenditure on Covid-19 on a daily basis through a dedicated transparency website www.opentreasury.gov.ng
– All MDAs were mandated to publish on their individual portals all expenditures relating to Covid-19
– All expenditures must go through appropriation by the National Assembly.
– A line item called Fund Source was created to enable the easy tracking of all receipts and related expenditures.
– All MDAs should honour FOI requests on Covid-19 expenditures as failure to do so will be considered a violation of the guidelines as approved by Mr. President.
For full papers presented at the webinar, please visit the download section of the ICPC website under paper presentations.