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ICPC: Corruption by Military Responsible for Worsening Insecurity
* Says former senior military officers under investigation for embezzling security funds
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, yesterday identified corruption by the military, the Police and civil servants as responsible for the worsening insecurity in the country.
Speaking at a one-day “Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria” in Abuja, the ICPC Chairman said: “At face value, insecurity is seen to be, and is sometimes treated as a matter requiring only a military response or reaction, but an indepth look into its possible root cause(s) shows that corruption is a major contributory factor to the continued existence and propagation of insecurity in the country.
“In fact, a clinical diagnosis of the insecurity menace in the country reveals that to effectively combat insecurity, we require the collaborative efforts of Security Agencies (the military, intelligence, Police, Customs, Prisons, others), as well as Law Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Agencies.
“ICPC’s research and investigation findings on the subject matter show that Public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enables insecurity, and can sometimes complement it.”
He said some former military and security personnel were being investigated by ICPC and EFCC for embezzlement of funds allocated for the security of the nation.
“There are also ongoing investigations into military contract spending. Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than 10 years cumulative sum of about N6 billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances and in violation of extant legislation. The Commission’s recovery of huge cash sums in local and foreign currencies, luxury cars, customized mobile phones, designer watches, including three Rolexes, as well as property documents from the premises of the contractor underscores the corruption that often attends military procurement.
“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and our sister agency for embezzlement of funds allocated to security. For example, a former head of one of the arms of the military in the twilight of his tenure deposited the sum of N4 billion from the military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is the beneficial owner and sole signatory.
“The proceeds were used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies. Some of the properties paid for by his service were also fraudulently converted to his use. ICPC’s prosecution of this high-ranking officer to recover all the implicated assets was strangely and perversely frustrated by a recently retired High Court judge who decided to forfeit some of the assets to FGN and the rest left to the suspect. While the Commission has filed notice of appeal, this strange development aggravates an already bad situation and escalates insecurity and impunity.
“Another case under investigation is theft of part of a special intervention fund approved for security operations by some civil servants in the line ministry, who transferred about N1 billion to four shell companies. A special investigative team under the leadership of NSA and ICPC recovered some of the diverted assets, including state of the art buildings located in Abuja and over N220 million cash. Investigation in this matter is still ongoing.
“Funds to retool and reposition the police to a world class institution are no less threatened by corruption. The newly established police special intervention framework, designed to eliminate underfunding of the police, the Police Trust Fund, is already under ICPC investigation for abuse, fund diversion, bogus, questionable welfare packaging that is not for the police who are the beneficiaries of the fund and sundry corrupt practices. One may safely conclude that other security agencies are dogged by similar practices albeit to varying degrees.”
The ICPC Chairman said the Buhari government had in the last seven years, with the aid of the 9th National Assembly, ensured significantly increased funding for the security sector and queried why this has not translated into commensurate effectiveness in the war against insurgency and insecurity, despite the gallant and sacrificial effort of the soldiers, policemen and other security operatives working daily to secure Nigerians.
“Experts have attributed the aggravation of insecurity partially to misapplication and misappropriation of funds in the defence sector procurement practices. Investigations by anti-corruption agencies will seem to bear this out. What is worse is that soldiers are often reported in social media complaining of being poorly-equipped and poorly motivated.
“These challenges can be partly traced to the revelation by the Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD) that about $15 billion has been squandered through fraudulent arms procurement deals in the last 20 years in the country.”
Owasanoye said while the ICPC and EFCC are investigating some of these anomalies, the efforts will not yield much without proactive prevention measures and a review of extant procurement practices.
“ICPC in furtherance of its statutory mandate to prevent corruption by review of the systems, processes and practices of agencies of government and to direct improvement where they predispose to corruption has through its research and training arm convened this policy dialogue,” said the ICPC Chairman.