UI, FMC, UBTH, others in alleged N18.6bn fraud

Several Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) including University of Ibadan, Federal Medical Centre, Bayelsa, and University of Benin Teaching Hospital are said to have padded their budget to the tune of N18.62 billion.

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed this on Tuesday, saying the fraud was uncovered following the of its System Study and Review of Practices in over 300 MDAs.

The ICPC chief stated this at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector and presentation of integrity awards, organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in collaboration with the Commission in Abuja.

He said: “As at the time we went to press we had covered about 300 MDAs and the amount inflated was about N12 billion.

“As at today your Excellency we have discovered additional N6billion making a total of N18.624billion restrained by ICPC.

“The exercise is still ongoing but we can confidently report that culprit MDAs are mostly academic and health institutions. For example, preliminary findings show the following –

“University of Benin Teaching Hospital (N1.1billion); Federal Medical Centre, Bayelsa (N915million); Nnamdi Azikwe University (N907million); University of Jos (N896million); University College Hospital, Ibadan (N701million); Usman Dan Fodio University (N636million) and University of Ibadan (N558million).

“These institutions and all those implicated will be given the opportunity to explain themselves. However, while investigations are on to confirm any credible explanations they may have, we have alerted the Minister of Finance of our findings and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that implicated MDAs will not be able to spend the excess built into their personnel budget.

“Let me note with regret sir that in the 2017-2018 fiscal year the balances recorded for personnel were wrongfully utilised by MDAs for other purposes due to lack of proactivity by late enforcement and related agencies. That sum amounted to N18.39billion.’’

Following the discovery, Prof. Owasanoye stressed the need for full implementation of the presidential directive that MDAs not on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) should not be paid as the Commission’s review had shown that most of the guilty MDAS were not on IPPIS.

“In a similar vein, we found that some MDAs spent N9.2billion of capital funds on overhead related items contrary to extant financial regulations.

“We found to our surprise that some MDAs fail to remit tax and divert pension and NHIS deductions for unrelated payments thus aggravating the sufferings of other Nigerians.

“Some MDAs abused the e-payment policy of government thus making payments through staff accounts instead of to actual beneficiaries. Most egregious in the current cycle of review is the Federal Ministry of Water Resources where N3.3billion was paid out in about a month through the accounts of staff.

“ICPC arrested 59 directors from the ministry and investigation is ongoing,” the ICPC chief added.