The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has warned state governments not to tamper with the bailout funds released for their respective states by the Federal Government for immediate payment of workers salaries.
The anti-graft Commission said it would consistently monitor the funds and how they were dispensed in all the states that benefitted.
It said its interest in the disbursement of the funds was for the good of workers which he said had been owed by their respective states for several months.
It vowed to ensure that the bailout funds are released for the purpose for which the Federal Government offered them.
The Chairman of ICPC, Ekpo Nta, made this known at the Commission’s Headquarters while handing over different sums of monies totalling almost one billion, looted in the Federal Ministry of Environment and some schools in Ogun State to the appropriate owners.
Ekpo Nta said the warnings he gave to state governors emanated from reports that the bailout funds released to their respective states were not being properly channelled.
He said the bailout funds belonged to the Federal Government; no state government had the right to misappropriate it, while not directly using it to pay the backlog of workers salaries they owed.
He said, “We understood that the bailout funds released to states by the Federal Government have not been going towards the proper channel. It is important to state here today that the bail out is from the Federal Governmet to the states to assist them in paying the salaries of workers.
“We will from now on be following how the funds are disbursed in different states to ensure that they get to the appropriate beneficiaries. This is because it is government funds.
However, the ICPC during the occasion handed over the looted sum of N924 million to the Ministry of Environment, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Fatima Mede, and the Director General of the Great Green Wall Project,, Ahmed Goni.
The money which the ICPC recovered from different banks was allegedly stolen from the account of the Ministry by some officials who are said to be facing prosecution at the moment.
Mr. Nta also handed over a total sum of N58 Million spread among The Federal Girls College Shagamu, Federal Science and Technology College, Ijebu Imushin and the Federal Government College, Odogbolu each of which took N28 million, N8 Million and N20 million respectively through their principals.
The monies handed over to the schools was part of the total sum of N103 million fund voted for meal subsidies of students and capital projects in the aforementioned schools, whereas the lump sum was diverted by a Federal Pay officer in Abeokuta, Ogun State, according to ICPC.
Mr. Nta vowed that since investigations were still on-going on the diverted fund, it would recovered the whole amount so far diverted and hand them back to the owners.
Speaking on the mode of recovery of the looted funds, the ICPC boss said, “The successes achieved so far are hinged on he prompt reporting by the ministries and agencies of government especially by their permanent secretaries, and of course the balanced reporting by the media.
He added, ”ICPC will continue to recover looted public finds and other proceeds arising from criminal activities linked to corruption investigations and return same to government coffers or to the victims in line with our mandate.”
Responding, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance thanked the ICPC for the recovered loot which he said was taken from the coffers of the Ministry barely a week after she resumed work.
Mrs. Mene said the money handed over to the ministry by the ICPC will go a long way in addressing some of the pressing issues, most especially the Great Green Wall programme by the Federal Government.
She said she personally reported the case of the looted fund to the ICPC chairman after getting a hint of how it was looted, as she commended the ICPC for responding promptly while eventually ensuring full recovery.
She said the recovered loot, which according to her was N75 million less than N1 billion, was part of funds voted by the government of Nigeria for addressing the problem of desert encroachment in 11 northern state as well as promoting agriculture in the state.
Also responding on behalf of the benefitting schools, the principal of Shagamu Federal Girls College, Mrs. Owolabi, thanked the ICPC for its good gesture in recovering and returning to the appropriate schools the loot.
She vowed that the recovered sums would be judiciously put into use by the schools, most especially in catering for the wellbeing of students and completion of ongoing projects in the schools.