Civil Society groups have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over what has been described as ‘ineffectiveness’ of the agency in recent times.
The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, while reacting to alleged fraud report against Minister of Information, Alh. Lai Mohammed in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, accused the commission of witch-hunting and lopsidedness in the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The statement was jointly signed by the President of Competent Governance for Accountability and Civic Trust (CGACT), Omoba Micheal; Deputy National Chairman, Urhobo South-South Youth Peace Mission (USYPM), Godwin Erheriene; and Executive Director, Beyond Boundaries Legacy Leadership Initiative (BBLLI), Omaga Daniel.
“We the Coalition of Civil Societies are using this medium to call on the presidency for total overhaul of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as the anomalies recorded in recent time, is far more than the right they have recorded under this present leadership,” the statement partly read.
It would be recalled that ICPC had earlier queried the minister and arraigned Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu alongside the Managing Director of Pinnacle Communications, Dipo Onifade, Founder and Chairman Board of Directors of Pinnacle, Lucky Omoluwa and Pinnacle Communications Ltd over N2.5bn fraud spent on Digital Switch Over.
But the coalition said the Commission is not playing according to the rules of the anti-corruption fight under President Buhari-led administration because due processes are not being followed, adding that there are cases that show the ICPC has not done thorough investigations over alleged fraud committed by some organisations.
It further said, “This record is not good for a growing nation like Nigeria as it will discourage many well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside the country, who intend to contribute their own quota to the development of this nation. We are having growing worries over the too many ‘unprofessional acts’ being displayed by the commission, just to score cheap political points.
“We are not unaware of the recent misinformation on some organisations which are too important to this nation and sensitive but being dragged to the mud by the ICPC.
“One, is the issue of Pinnacle Communication and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) regarding the Digital Switch Over (DSO) which when completed will generate $1 billion annually for the Nigerian television industry according to the Minister of Information and Culture.
“It is so apparent that the issue of ICPC fighting the company handling this magnificent project is against the interest of the nation, as it is obvious, because the petition alleging of the sum of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communication by NBC without due process, thereby making it a baseless and factual media trial and also place a “post no debit” on the account of Pinnacle Communication with Zenith Bank Plc.”
Meanwhile, the group also alleged that, “ICPC has current issue of alleged indictment of the MD/CEO of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), Marilyn Amobi, which has really cut the attention of many because of the misinformation coming again from ICPC.”
In giving instance on the alleged witch-hunt by the Commission, the group said, “The story claimed that the alleged ICPC report was dated February 6, 2019. And as at April 10, 2019, two days before the ICPC publication, NBET staff was at the ICPC office to provide additional document to the commission on the said issue. Why are they saying they have concluded the investigation since February 6, 2019?
“ICPC should be more professional in its fight against corruption instead of this their media trial strategy which they are using to dent the image of some well-meaning Nigerians who are trying their best to see this Nation be at par with best globally.