The Senate has said that the perennial underfunding of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other anti-graft agencies in each budget year is an indication that the country is not yet ready to fight corruption.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi who drew the conclusion during the 2018 budget defence by the Commission before the Committee, lamented that ICPC had been greatly incapacitated with poor funding.
He said, “The trouble of ICPC has always been poor funding. This Committee has been around for about three years now and has seen the work you are doing. But the way you are presently funded, you are greatly incapacitated. The budget we have is not budgeting to fight corruption, but to only watch it happening. ICPC needs to be cracking for the benefit of Nigerians but you cannot fight corruption properly without adequate funding.”
The Senator however praised ICPC for not engaging in propaganda in the media but has been consciously committed to doing its job, saying, “We understand your job and we are glad that you are doing it the way it should be done. You are not doing propaganda by arresting everybody so that people can praise you only for us not to hear about it anymore.”
He tasked the Commission to continue with its preventive mandate in government ministries, departments and agencies in line with the requirement of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
A member of the Committee, Senator Isa Misau (Bauchi), supporting Utazi said that the staff strength of ICPC that was put at 800 personnel was another indicator that the fight against corruption was not being taken seriously.
According to him, the Commission lacks the staff strength to deal with an estimated 180 million people, adding that it was almost miraculous that it was able to investigate the large number of petitions that it did in the year 2017.
For this reason, he asserted that the government needs to embark on massive recruitment to shore up the staff strength of ICPC.
According to him, “No way can we achieve what we want to achieve in this country about dealing with corruption with the number of staff of ICPC. There are so many public servants and others committing corruption every day that we need to deal with, but how can ICPC do it effectively with this few members of staff?”
Also contributing, Senator Matthew Uroghide (Edo) noted that the result of the budget performance of 2017 had shown that ICPC over-performed on its mandate despite the glaring underfunding.
The Acting Chairman of ICPC, Hon. Bako Abdullahi, while briefing the Committee said that the Commission was able to recover many properties in 2017 including 199 flats.
He also said that N1.2 billion was recovered from corrupt people in the year under review and paid back to the beneficiaries. Another N981.2 million of the amount was paid directly into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federal government.
Hon. Abdullahi, speaking further on the achievements of ICPC for 2017, said that the Commission received a total of 1510 petitions and treated 1101. A total of 577 were fully investigated while 19 were referred to other relevant agencies.
For the year 2018, ICPC is proposing N9.8 billion out of which N1.3 billion is for overhead cost, N4.1 billion for personnel cost and N4.4 billion for capital expenditure.