The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) at the weekend disclosed how the anti-graft agency saved N100 billion for the federal government in the Ministry of Finance after it discovered 45,000 ghost workers.
Making this disclosure while defending the commission’s budget before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-corruption in Abuja, ICPC Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, said the move was possible because of its sound relationship with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and careful scrutiny of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
“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 FIRS. We have actually jailed some of their staff that are not doing the right thing and of course the Bureau of Public Procurement. We work hand in hand with them now.
“So if anyone provide false statistics through bidding exercise, they will refer you to us and that has now started cleaning out that sector,” Nta said.
Nta also disclosed how it tracked down 50 of the 156 major companies which secured contracts from the Federal Ministry of Works using forged t tax certificates.
He said managements of the firms were now being prosecuted for these criminal acts.
According to him, the actions of the firms have robbed tertiary institutions across the country of adequate funding as a result of non-payment of taxes otherwise known as Tertiary Education Funds.
“We have gone into direct intervention with Federal Inland Revenue Service, most of the big companies that do business for government have not been paying correct taxes or have been using forged documents.
“I can give you clear examples – 156 companies that did business with the Federal Ministry of Works – we got involved and over 50 had forged tax certificates and we are prosecuting them, 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 target taxation to help improve funding of these other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Nta also said the agency had closed down over 26 illegal degree awarding institutions in the country and simultaneously commenced the prosecution of their proprietors.
He as well disclosed how the ICPC had protected a female undergraduate of the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State, whom he said was allegedly victimised by some of her lecturers for 12 years on campus because she refused to succumb to their sexual advances.
He added: “Now, there is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who spent eight years without graduation and was being victimised. 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. ICPC moved in. She’s graduated and we are working on prosecuting all the officials involved.”
Nta also said there were TEDFUND projects in all universities, colleges of education and polytechnics in Nigeria because the ICPC had ensured the release of N25 billion to all tertiary institutions within the system.