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ICPC investigates dozens over misappropriation of constituency projects funds

Anti-Corruption Agency Uncovers Irregularities in Allocation and Execution of Development Projects

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is currently scrutinizing approximately 50 contractors, consultants, and staff members of government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in connection with constituency projects mismanagement. This investigation marks the fifth phase of the agency’s ongoing efforts to track the utilization of funds allocated for constituency projects by federal lawmakers.

In a report shared on its verified social media account, the ICPC disclosed its probe into fraudulent procurement practices related to the Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs), also known as constituency projects, implemented under the 2019, 2020, and 2021 budget cycles during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari. The agency revealed freezing about 200 bank accounts linked to illicit activities surrounding these projects, resulting in the recovery of over N5.6 billion in cumulative savings for the Federal Government.

The investigation has led to the detention of over 50 individuals, including legislators, agency staff, contractors, and consultants, suspected of involvement in irregularities surrounding the allocation and execution of constituency projects. Notably, the House of Representatives spokesperson, Akin Rotimi, emphasized that the implicated legislators served between 2019 and 2022, predating the current 10th National Assembly.

The ICPC’s efforts to monitor constituency projects were initiated in 2019 due to public dissatisfaction with project delivery. Over the years, the agency has tracked thousands of projects valued at billions of naira, aiming to ensure transparency and accountability in government spending.

Among the findings of the fifth tracking phase, the ICPC highlighted discrepancies in the execution of projects, including diversion of funds, project abandonment, overpayment of contract sums, and disparities in project distribution. Particularly concerning was the misuse of soft projects and empowerment initiatives, with about 47% of tracked projects serving as conduits for embezzlement and money laundering.

The projects scrutinized encompassed various sectors, including education, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure, and empowerment programs. Spread across 20 states, these projects aimed to address community development needs but were marred by irregularities and mismanagement.

While the ICPC remains committed to prosecuting those involved in project fraud, observers stress the importance of holding both lawmakers and contractors accountable to deter future malpractice. Emmanuel Onwubiko of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria urged the ICPC to pursue convictions diligently, emphasizing the need for transparency and integrity in public service.

Debo Adeniran, Chairman of the Centre for Accountability and Open Leadership, echoed this sentiment, underscoring the significance of accountability in ensuring that constituency projects serve their intended purpose and benefit the Nigerian populace.

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