Barristers & Solicitors
ICPC uncovers N400bn fraud in 2021, 2022 budgets

•••N100bn dubiously inserted
•••N50bn manipulated as salaries for ghost workers

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission,  on Thursday, disclosed that the N13.59trillion 2021 budget was padded by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, with duplicated projects worth N300bn.

The Chairman of the anti- graft  agency,  Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, during an interface with the Senate Committee on Finance, also disclosed that project  duplication worth N100bn were also inserted into the N17.12trn 2022 budget by  some MDAs, including a N49.9bn tracked as salaries for  ghost workers  between January and June this year .

Owasanoye expained that the N300billion duplicated projects in the 2021 budget and N100billion in the 2022 budget were tracked through scrutinisation carried out on approved projects for the various MDAs.

The ICPC boss stated, “Three hundred billion naira would have been wasted by the Federal Government on duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 budget and N100billion for the same purpose in the current fiscal year, if not tracked and intercepted by ICPC.

“The same preemptive move saved the country from spending N49.9billion for salaries of ghost workers put on fictitious pay rolls by the fraudulent MDAs between January and June this year.”

Owasanoye noted that the names of MDAs involved in project duplications were available and would be forwarded to the committee.

“The good thing about the preemptive moves made by us is that monies for the fraudulent acts were prevented from being released to the affected MDAs and it is gratifying that the Finance Ministry and Accountant General Office cooperated with us,” he said.

 He advised relevant committees of the National Assembly to be on the look-out for such projects duplication in the proposed N19.76trillion 2023 budget.

He added, “From our own end, detection of such projects are done by verifying their locations and names upon which we tell the appropriate authorities not to release wrongly budgeted monies for them.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committe, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, who was delighted by the progress, said the operational cost of the agency would be increased from N1.8billion .

He added, “This committee is impressed by proactive ways your commission is adopting in the fight against corruption.

“Your submissions clearly show that all hope is not lost for our dear country as far as fighting corruption is concerned .

“Your operational cost, which is N1.8billion, will be increased as required impetus for more proactive measures against corrupt practices across the various MDA’s.”