By Naomi Sharang
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it recovered N26 billion from 2015 till date from public officials and companies.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, said the recoveries included cash and houses.
He said during the process, monies were traced to houses, noting that recently, the commission recovered 32 houses from a civil servant.
“There are situations whereby our efforts lead to recovery of assets, though much has not been done in terms of conviction.
“Anti-corruption is not measured only by convictions alone.
“If you look at our law for example, it gives us powers to do enforcement which means we can investigate and prosecute. This is what leads to conviction.
“And the biggest part of what we are supposed to do is prevention to stop the crime from happening,” the chairman said.
Owasanoye said public officers who had embezzled public funds usually did not act alone but in concert with owners of companies.
“When we are recovering, we can trace to wherever the money is, which sometimes is in the hands of a company.
“If we follow some of the corruption cases very well, we realise that when you find a public officer, very rarely will they put the money in their account.
“They cook up a process where the money is stolen either by awarding contracts to themselves, by claiming Duty Transport Allowance (DTA) which they did not attend and by diverting money from an approved vote to somewhere else.
“But when you are doing recoveries, irrespective of how it was initiated, and you follow it to whoever is holding it to the end point that your investigation can reach.
“It can be a company, you can trace it to both liquid and hard assets,” the chairman explained.
On alleged level of corruption in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Owasanoye said that “not all the allegations are validated.
“There are a lot of allegations of corruption against agencies that interface with the public.
“And where these agencies are not organised and coordinated, there will be this allegation of corruption,” he said.
Referring to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Owasanoye said that “we get a lot of allegations that are against the directorate’s personnel who defraud pensioners”.
“However, some of these allegations are not genuine because some pensioners don’t give details of their information to PTAD.
“However, that is not to say that sometimes we do not find credibility in some of the allegations.
“People scam pensioners and pretend they represent PTAD.
“The directorate has come to us to complain and we have designated a liaison person to work with PTAD toward investigating and prosecuting some of these persons,” he said.
The Chairman further said that ICPC and PTAD were collaborating to rid the directorate of scammers.
“We have an officer that is designated, that liaises with PTAD so that PTAD can quickly investigate and put a closure to whatever the issue is and get back to those who have petitioned.
“We are prosecuting quite a number of them,” the chairman said.