Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The fear that they may be jailed under the Public Procurement Act (PPA) after leaving office, has been observed as the reason some state governors have shunned this legislation in their respective states.
Executive Secretary of Public Complaints Commission (PCC), Mr. Bala Abdul Mohammed, noted this on Saturday at the University of Jos while delivering lectures as the Guest Speaker at the first annual public lecture in honour of Professor Jonah Elaigwu, a founding Professor of the Department of Political Science of the university.
Mohammed said as a result of the absence of the legislation in many states which prohibits such practices, including over-invoicing of government contracts and other related purchases, corruption has continued to thrive unhindered in the public sector at the detriment of the states and their people.
“There is so much crisis in Nigeria today as a result of corruption; there is electoral corruption, nepotism, favouristism and other forms of corruption in Nigeria’s public sector, including procurement scam whereby the purchase of an item is inflated so that the difference between the inflated price and the actual price is shared between the person who does the purchasing and the sellers or it is taken by the purchaser alone with the connivance of the sellers”, Mohammed alleged.
“This is where most of the governors and the executive members are being jailed. Anybody who takes you to the court of law under the procurement act is considered your worst enemy because you can hardly escape it. That is why some state governors have not enacted the procurement acts in their states,” he explained.
The public lecture was organised by 1982-1992 Political Science Alumni of the University with the theme “Fiscal Federalism and the question of return of looted assets and proceeds of crime.”
Mohammed also said that fiscal federalism in Nigeria is characterised by constant struggle and agitation for change and resource control due to the “centrifugal and centripetal tendencies in our disaggregate system” which according to him often impacted negatively in the country’s economy”.
While identifying asset recovery as a vital means of fighting corruption and promoting development in the country as shown by increased allocations to pro-poor sectors following the repatriation $505 million from Switzerland, the executive secretary however, warned that when following a traditional conviction-based approach to asset recovery, investigators must go beyond locating offenders to acquiring sufficient evidence to connect the assets obtained to the unlawful activity so that judicial order for confiscation can be obtained.
He added that for Nigeria to reap the full benefits of the fight against corruption, it is not enough to use recovered assets to fund anti-poverty projects and to promote development, as such efforts require better oversight mechanisms and management involving the society.
“There are more than 14 anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria. Mere tracking, tracing, freezing of corrupt funds and looted assets have not helped the Third World countries in spite of the various Mutual Legal Assistance entered with the First World countries under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
“Where looted resources are identified, frozen and confiscated, the victim state is never indemnified.
“There is no policy direction in that respect up till date. Such confiscated loots are left in the coffers of the federal government and most often than none, abandoned and left at the mercy of other hoodlums and natural depletions.
“We are still chasing after the Abacha loot till today; large sums of money remain frozen in other countries, of which close to $1.3 billion is presumably held in Luxemburg. There are also many other looted funds being pursued for recovery in many other countries. Therefore, there is the need for Nigeria to establish a body for proper management of the recovered stolen funds and assets.”
Lastly, he warned that fight against corruption must be all-inclusive and not one-sided “where somebody from my area found to have stolen public fund is left whereas another person from a different area found to have committed the same offence is being hounded,” adding that only then can it succeed and achieve desired objective.