The House of Representatives has summoned the chairman of the anti-graft agency, ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, for a report his commission conducted accusing the federal lawmakers of perfecting fraudulent means of pocketing billions of naira under the guise of constituency projects.
PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday published the ICPC report, Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG), signed by Mr Owasanoye, where it accused federal lawmakers of using various methods of “stealing public funds” by duplicate contracts using the same description, same narrative, same amount, same location and awarded by the same agency
The ICPC also accused the lawmakers of inserting controversial constituency projects into the budgets termed “capacity building and empowerment projects,” that entails training and distribution of items and even cash to constituents.
“These Capacity Building and Empowerment projects have become a convenient conduit for embezzling public funds by the sponsoring legislators and the executing agency as they are difficult to track and verify due to their “soft” nature,” the report stated.
In a reaction to the report, the lawmakers during a plenary session on Tuesday described the findings as a deliberate attempt to rubbish and ridicule the National Assembly and portray it as not having credible persons, ThisDay newspaper reports.
While reaction to the PREMIUM TIMES report, John Dyegh, a lawmaker representing Gboko/Tarka federal constituency in Benue State, moved a motion alleging that the report was capable of pitting the National Assembly members against their constituents.
He described the report as “a deliberate attempt to rubbish and ridicule this institution and portray it as not having credible persons.”
The lawmaker further said that the report was capable of destroying the image of the Nigerian legislative arm of government before the international community
The House therefore resolved, “to invite the Chairman of ICPC to interact with the Committee on ICPC of the House for proper discussion.”
The report did not specify the exact date the ICPC chairman was given to appear before the house.
According to the report, the lawmakers also mandated the committees on Ethics and Privileges and Public Petition to investigate this matter and report back within four weeks.
Efforts to reach the ICPC spokesperson, Rashidat Okoduwa, for comments were not successful Wednesday.
Zonal Project Tracking
The Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG), which is in its first phase, tracked 424 projects from 2015–2018 zonal intervention projects (also called constituency projects) between June and August, 2019, across 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
It is carried out by the ICPC and its partners: Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Bureau of Public Procurement, Budget Office of the Federation, Premium Times, BudgIT and Udeme.ng.
The states include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Osun and Sokoto.
The projects aims at ensuring equity in the allocation of projects sited in the constituencies of federal lawmakers by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government in the budgets of the federation.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November said there has been very little benefits to the grassroots from the ₦1 trillion that had been earmarked for constituency projects in the last 10 years.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how over 400 participants from government agencies, CSO’s and Media, at a two-day summit attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, suggested that the mode of payment and execution of the ZIP’s were enmeshed in corruption and should be reviewed.