The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye SAN, has disclosed that the commission is Investigating Military spending, including alleged diversion of N4 billion by an ex- military chief.
He said there are also cases of job racketeering in the security sector.
He made the revelation in a speech at the national policy dialogue on corruption and insecurity in Nigeria, held on Friday at the ICPC Auditorium, Abuja.
He said: “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.”
He explained that ICPC’s findings on the subject matter show that Public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enables insecurity, and can sometimes complement it.
According to him, “Cases of job racketeering abound in the security sector, many of which are under investigation by the ICPC. There are also ongoing investigations into military contracts spending. Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than ten 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 underscore the corruption that often attend military procurement.”
He said some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and a 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 special intervention fund approved for security operations by some civil servants in the line ministry who transferred about N1 billion to 4 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.”
He said funds to retool and reposition the police to a world class institution is also threatened by corruption.
He added that the newly established police special intervention framework designed to eliminate underfunding of the police, the Police Trust Fund, is already under ICPC investigation.
He said it is being investigated for abuse, fund diversion, 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.
“In the past 7 years the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the 9th National Assembly have ensured significantly increased funding for the security sector. Part of our interrogation today is why has this proactive effort not translated into commensurate effectiveness in the war against insurgency and insecurity and despite the gallant and sacrificial effort of our 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 $15billion has been squandered through fraudulent arms procurement deals in the last 20 years in the country,” he said.
He further highlighted that Nigeria’s worsening insecurity challenges and the resulting impact on the Nigerian state, her economy and her image, continue to be cause of grave concern to Nigerians.
“Nigeria’s insecurity crisis is real and consolidating. A recent Business Day publication of May 20, 2022, showed that Nigeria’s Military spending grew by 56% in one year – from USD2.4Bn in 2020 to USD4.5Bn in 2021. If those figures are correct, it indicates that strengthening the security services, especially the military, to beef up security against internal threats has been a matter of very high national priority under this government,” he said.