â€¢ Confirms initial security checks cleared them
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is set to charge to court, two of the 14 nominees into the board of the commission, who were dropped at the weekend by the presidency to face corruption charges.
A senior official in the presidency who did not want to be named, told THISDAY yesterday that it was upon learning that the commission had prepared charges against them that it quickly cancelled their appointments.
The two nominees, Ms Maimuna Aliyu and Dr. Saâ€™ad Alanamu, were accused of fraud to the tune of about N1 billion when they served different institutions in Kwara State and Abuja respectively.
Alanamu was said to have been caught in corrupt practices when he headed various institutions in Kwara State while Aliyu was accused of abuse of office and misappropriation and diversion of funds when she served as the Executive Director of Aso Savings and Loans.
THISDAY investigation revealed yesterday that contrary to beliefs that the names of the dropped nominees were never sent to a relevant agency for security check, they were actually screened by a security agency and cleared before their appointments by acting President Yemi Osinbajo on August 1.
However, the source was quick to add that they were nominated in view of the security agencyâ€™s report that there were no records of criminal convictions against them, adding however, that the agency noted that there were questions about their past records.
He explained that the basic idea behind security checks was to find out if a particular nominee had hitherto been convicted of criminal offences, explaining that it would not be fair to drop a nominee on the basis of mere petitions and accusationsÂ in view of frivolous petitions that might be brought against him by his traducers.
The source recalled how a number of accusations were leveled against the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, following his nomination as minister in 2015, observing that if mere accusations or petitions were the basic requirements to withhold an appointment, Fashola, like some of his colleagues, would not have been a minister today.
He added that when the presidency got to know about the allegations, it reached out to ICPC to confirm its veracity, disclosing that indeed, the commission did not only confirm the allegations but also revealed that it had already prepared charges against them.
The senior official said it was at this level that it became imperative for them to be dropped to stand trial for charges of corruption against them, moreso that it is the same commission they were nominated to serve that also had corruption cases against them.
â€œThe basic security check is is to know if there were criminal convictions against them but checks done by the agency revealed that there was none but there were questions and when ICPC was contacted, it confirmed that it was true and it were already preparing charges against them. It was at this level that we said â€˜we cannot go beyond this level.â€™
â€œWe cannot drop people on the basis of petitions because if you are nominated for an appointment and a petition is written against you, l will not be fair to you, if l drop you on the basis of that petition, there will always be petitions,â€ he said.
Last Sunday, the acting president, through his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, announced the withdrawal of the nominees, Aliyu and Alanamu, citing conflict of interests on their appointments.
He had earlier on Tuesday last week appointed Professor Bolaji Owasanoye as the new Chairman of ICPC and redeployed the former chairman, Ekpo Nta, to National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission. He also named 13 others, including Alanamu and Aliyu, as board members of the commission.
The withdrawal followed media reports that Aliyu and Alanamu were being investigated for alleged fraud which was believed would bring credibility crisis into the commission set up to fight such fraudulent acts.
Against this background, Akande had noted in a tweet that whereas allegations against the duo had not been established via convictions in a law court, the government still had the responsibility to ensure that the right thing was done when weighty allegations were made.
â€œWe are stepping down two of the new ICPC board nominees who have ongoing investigation issues with the commission as this presents a conflict.
â€œWhile existence of allegations or petitions against someone shouldnâ€™t necessarily disqualify them from considerations for appointments, this case presents a peculiarity as we have confirmed that the agency in which they are to serve is indeed investigating the two of them.
â€œA basic check showed no court convictions against them. But when weighty petitions come up, this administration will always do the right thing,â€ Akande tweeted.
Owasanoye, who was hitherto a member of the Presidential Committee on Anti-corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay, will serve for a renewable term of five years while other members will serve for four years.
Other nominees into the board are: Dr. Grace N. Chinda, Okolo Titus M., Obiora Igwedebia, Mrs. Olubukola Balogun, Group Capt. Sam Ewang (rtd.), Justice Adamu Bello, Hannatu Mohammed and Abdullahi Maikano Saidu.
Also nominated are Yahaya Umar Daud, Khamis Ahmed Mailantarki and Prof. Musa Usman Abubakar as the board secretary.