ABUJA—IT was a shocking revelation at the ongoing budget defence in the Senate, Friday, as Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, disclosed that 50 of the 156 major companies doing contracts with the Federal Ministry of Works were allegedly operating with forged tax certificates.
Nta further said his agency had closed down over 26 illegal degree awarding institutions in the country and was currently prosecuting their proprietors, adding that because of the robust relationship the anti-graft agency has with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, some of the staff of the service and that of the Bureau for Public Procurement that were not doing the right thing had been jailed.
According to him, the management of all the 56 firms allegedly involved in forged tax certificates were currently being prosecuted for not paying the correct taxes to the Federal Government.
The ICPC boss, who described the development as worrisome, said the affected firms had denied tertiary institutions across the country their appropriate funding since the Tertiary Education Funds are monies paid in form of taxes by companies.
He said: “We have gone into direct intervention with Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS and discovered that most of the big companies that do business for government have not been paying correct taxes or have been using forged documents.
Forged tax certificates
“I can give you clear examples. Of 156 companies that did business with the Federal Ministry of Works, over 50 had forged tax certificates and we are prosecuting them, and that has now led to a total change in respect of persons who want to get involved in government business.
“You know that TEDFUND depends on monies that come from companies. So if you don’t pay company taxes, TEDFUND does not get the money they should get to improve the education sector and that is why we targeted taxation to help improve funding of these other sectors of the economy.
“Of course, you know what we have done in the Ministry of Finance, on the issue of ghost workers, where over 45,000 ghost workers were discovered, that has saved over a N100 billion.
“We have a robust relationship with the Federal Inland Revenue Service. We have actually jailed some of their staff that are not doing the right thing and of course we now work hand in hand with the Bureau for Public Procurement.
“So if anyone provides false statistics through bidding exercise they will refer you to us and that has now started cleaning out that sector.”
Female undergrad victimized for 12 yrs
Nta also told the committee that ICPC had saved a female undergraduate of the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma who was allegedly victimized by some of her lecturers for 12 years on campus because she refused to give in to their sexual overtures.
He said: “Now, there is a student at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, who spent eight years without graduation and was being victimized, we moved in, and through us he graduated.
“We moved into Ambrose Ali University. A girl stayed there for 12 years on the basis of sexual harassment, she has graduated and we are working on prosecuting all the officials involved.”
He said the ICPC had ensured the release of N25 billion for projects in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education through TEDFUND and that the money was released to the deserving institutions that had been tied up in their system.
On fight against corruption
Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption, Senator Victor Lar, commended the agency for its efforts at ensuring sanity, stressing that the current administration had done well in fighting corruption because of the steadfastness and doggedness of the ICPC and its sister agencies.
Lar had earlier stated at the budget defence of N542,199,776 for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan had fought corruption more than any other administration in the country.
To buttress his point, the Plateau South Senator said under President Jonathan-led administration, EFCC has secured 136 convictions, an indication that the government has secured more convictions against corrupt officials and economic saboteurs.
He said that people criticized the present government of not doing enough to fight corruption because Nigerians were impatient, adding that the difference between the present administration and the previous ones was that the present follows due process.
He said: “Let me shock you by boldly asserting and declaring that contrary to the general impression being held in certain quarters, the Jonathan Goodluck administration has fought corruption more than any other administration. Under this administration, the various agencies have secured more convictions against corrupt officials and economic saboteurs.
“Indeed over 600 convictions were cumulatively secured by EFCC, ICPC with that of the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) destroying a regional record of hard drugs.
“In fact, the discovery and destruction of three methamphetamine making factories in Lagos has continued to confound the international community.”