The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) will probe fraudulent procurement, and others in 712 government projects in 20 Nigerian states as part of Phase 5 of the Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Exercise.
It was learnt this in a statement signed by the Commission’s spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, on Sunday.
ICPC said that the 5th phase, involving 712 government-funded projects, will commence on the 8th of November, 2022, in 20 states cutting across the six geopolitical zones. The states are Kaduna, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Borno, Bauchi, and Gombe states.
The anti-corruption agency noted that with other tracking exercises carried out by ICPC since the kick-off in 2019, the objective of Phase 5 is to investigate fraudulent procurement practices in awarding contracts for the selected projects across the country. It aims to ensure that all government-funded projects are executed fully to their specifications and to make recoveries where the project costs are inflated by contractors or are poorly executed.
The Commission, in the 4th Phase of the exercise, successfully tracked 538 projects across nine focal areas of Health, Education, Power, Water Resources, Works, Housing, Agriculture, Transport, and Environment.
The exercise was conducted in 19 states across the six geopolitical zones and the FCT, including Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Borno and FCT.
Some of the findings from the Phase 4 exercise include the discovery of N7.1 billion worth of padded projects, some contractors who had abandoned project sites being compelled to return to different sites to complete N10.9 billion naira worth of projects, while N6.8 billion naira worth of recoveries (cash and assets) have been made so far.
Also, 109 out of the 543 selected projects in Phase 4, amounting to N1,176,867,800, were found to have been inserted, which effectively turned them into Zonal Intervention Projects. Intelligence revealed that the insertions were done by both legislators and some members of the Executive arm of the government in the budget-making process.
Though Phase 4 was intended to focus solely on Executive projects, it, however, became another exercise in Constituency Projects tracking because of the quantum of budget padding found amongst the selected projects.
Phase 5 of the exercise will be carried out by ICPC in collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as the Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, the Media and Civil Society Organizations that constitute the steering committee.