ICPC does not spend recovered funds — Owasanoye 

Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye

THE Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has said  that money recovered by the commission is paid into the coffers of the Federal Government.

The chairman disclosed this at a one-day Sensitisation Dialogue with stakeholders  on Behavioural Change, National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Wednesday in Abuja.

The workshop is an avenue to sensitise stakeholders on its Constituency Projects Tracking Initiative which commenced in 2019, focusing on how well money allocated to critical sectors by government is utilised.

The project is in it fourth phase with the recovery of assets worth billions of Naira to the government, return of equipment to communities for whom they were meant.

Also, the project has forced a lot of contractors to return to sites and completed hitherto shoddily done or abandoned projects.

The exercise, however, led to revelation that some projects were excellently and completely executed.

Reacting to question on what happened to recovered assets, the ICPC boss reiterated that all the monetary recovered goes into the ‘Recovery Account’ and the account is with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said the commission has no powers over funds or assets recovered from corrupt people, adding that it does not spend recovered funds.

“The commission has a designated account for the recovery of proceeds of crime known as ‘ICPC Recovery Account’ into which all recovered funds were paid into

“Let me clear some of the misinformation out there. First thing is that, all the monetary recoveries goes into the recovery account.

“And there’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s because there is a high level of cynicism. People do not believe anything righteous about the government.

“But I can swear an affidavit I can go on oath and swear on the Bible. Since I resumed in ICPC, no one kobo from recovered assets have been diverted.

“What is the proper thing? There is a  recovery account the money goes there, that’s one.

“So if it is liquid cash, the money goes there and that account is in the CBN. This information is important for community leaders to have because most people just accuse and say things that are simply incorrect.

 “You can ask anybody that you know who has ever been the suspect of investigation by ICPC.

“They have paid through remittance into the  recovery accounts called ‘ICPC Recovery Account’, he said.

Owasanoye further explained that the Proceeds of Crime Act was recently passed and the law says, “confiscation account should be opened and we have also opened one.

“If you step out of our compound, all you cars you see to the right are sized vehicles, covered vehicles, because the procedure for disposal was not carried until recently.

“We pressured until government  made claim the guidelines by saying every agency now has responsibility to dispose of assets and put the money into the recovery account.

“So ICPC has formed an Asset Disposal Committee which included members of the public as observers. The Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Civil Societies, Bureau of Public Procurement all are represented.

“Let them come and see what we are doing and broadcast it to the whole world,” he added.

He urged the public to visit the ICPC website for information on its recovered assets, adding that such information has been on its website since 2020.

“We try to put this information out there. All the recovered assets by ICPC have been on our website since 2020 and we have a digital assets record for all recovered assets whether interim or final.

“Government doesn’t have good reputation. Even when they are doing the right thing, citizens will say they have stolen the money.

“People will grant interview and they will be talking with passion and you will almost believe them that what they are  saying is correct. But sometimes, how many people can you correct?”.

In explaining further, the three categories of assets recovery, Owasanoye added it was important for the public to be carried along for transparency purposes.

“It’s good to educate the public.

When assets are recovered, they are recovered in three categories.

“They can been siezed, interim forfeiture and final forfeiture.

“So, a lot of assets that dragged for years are under interim forfeiture. If at the end of the day ICPC loses the cases for whatever reason. The court might say we do not agree with us on some evidence tendered.

“Like recently, we arrested somebody that used public fund to acquired 19 properties and we say this can not be his money.

“We filed all the documents. The court said some of these properties can be acquired by the suspect.

“The court forfeited four to government and left the rest of the properties to the suspect. We have appealed but there is nothing we can do, ” he said.

The ICPC boss maintained that under interim forfeiture, the properties would be under its custody until the court case had concluded.

“We will mark them and put security there. We do not allow you to operate there except if they are perishable, we bond it. You give us the value of the assets. We hold it until the case is concluded.”

He, however, stated that the new regime openly stated that before the end of the year, the commission would publish some assets that were under final forfeiture that have been valued and have no challenge in court.

“We will wait until the court cases are concluded. If ICPC wins, the assets becomes government properties, if we lose it goes back to the suspect,” he maintained. (NAN)