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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has commended the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for its planned investigation of some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies for infractions on COVID-19 intervention funds and other procurement abuses.
CACOL in a statement by Tola Oresanwo, Director of Administration and Programmes, on behalf of the Chairman, Debo Adeniran, asserted: “It would be recalled that the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), disclosed this at the 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja. The 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day has as theme “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds”. The ICPC boss stated in his remarks that the commission had observed discrepancies and infractions in the procurement and payments made by some ministries and agencies after the release and appropriate disbursement of COVID-19 funds.”
The commission, he added, also observed that in some instances the distribution of relief materials or palliatives was chaotic, disorderly, and uncoordinated. He also said, “Some implicated MDAs refused the monitoring team access to their records thereby impeding the successful inquiry into their activities. These MDAs are flagged and will be investigated for breaches and infractions of the law and COVID-19 intervention funds guidelines and other procurement abuses. Reports, according to the ICPC chairman, also showed selective distribution, favouritism, nepotism and other biases in the allocation and distribution of relief material or palliatives as well as the high jacking of palliatives by political actors, their proxies, cronies, and affiliates.
“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CACOL had earlier called on relevant anti-graft agencies to probe the intervention funds disbursed to various government agencies and MDAs. We all know that Nigeria was among the first set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and implemented strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Government’s policy measures such as travel restrictions, lockdowns, and restrictions on economic and social activities, aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, negatively affected the livelihoods and food security of most Nigerians especially those occupying the lower and middle-class strata.”
CACOL declared: “Alleviating the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is vital for preventing poverty from deepening and increasing in Nigeria; before the crisis, approximately 4 in 10 Nigerians were living below the poverty line, and millions more were living just above the poverty line, making them vulnerable to falling back into poverty when shocks occur. Hence, it was so strange to notice the abysmal strategies adopted by these agencies of government in the distribution of palliatives and spending of the intervention fund that was meant to cushion the negative effects of the pandemic on Nigerians. We cannot forget in a hurry the rate of hoarding and diversion of palliatives that later led to the raids by famished and already impoverished people in different parts of the country of facilities or locations warehousing palliatives. Some of such also created widespread violence.
“We at CACOL are happy that the ICPC is beaming its searchlight on these erring agencies now, though it is coming a bit late but it is better late than never. We hope the anti-graft agency would carry out a thorough investigation of the agencies concerned and if found wanting, the officials involved should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
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