In its continuing effort to rid public sector institutions of corruption and related fraud, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has uncovered the diversion of N250 million belonging to the federal government into private pockets.
The amount was diverted from the personnel cost account of the Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH) in Sokoto State.
ICPC said intelligence-led investigation revealed that the fraud was carried out when deductions meant for third parties, such as the state Board of Internal Revenue and over-payment deductions were diverted on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and channelled into the private accounts of an individual and a company.
The commission has already taken into custody the alleged kingpin in the crime, who is an account staff of UDUTH. He is being questioned to unravel all those behind the fraudulent act.
The commission has also commenced efforts to recover the proceeds of this fraud through the seizure of exotic cars and real estate properties from the main culprit.
Checks by the commission on how a critical national infrastructure such as the IPPIS could be compromised indicated likely negligence on the part of the management of the Teaching Hospital and other loopholes.
For instance, the failure to cross-check and reconcile the execution of its budget and allowing officers from the Finance and Account department to access another officer’s password on the platform, present real threats and vulnerabilities, it was learnt.
Further checks revealed that the suspect took advantage of the window of opportunity on the IPPIS platform that “allows Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to edit salaries that have been processed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) before they are finalized or paid” to substitute the genuine destination account numbers with those of his co-conspirators before payment.
Again, the ICPC findings indicated that the platform does not match account names with account numbers. This loophole created the opportunity for the fraudster to divert the funds successfully for the while that the fraud lasted.
Investigation into the fraud is ongoing and appropriate actions will be taken by the commission upon conclusion, it said.