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N292m Found in Retired Permanent Secretary’s Account

Valentine Chinyem

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has traced N292m to the account of one of the permanent secretaries that were retired on Tuesday.

It was gathered on Thursday that the ICPC made the discovery during the discreet investigations into the five months the permanent secretaries presided over ministries in the absence of ministers.

Anti-graft investigators were said to have commenced probe into the permanent secretaries’ reign shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari submitted the ministerial list to the Senate.

It was learnt that the investigators became curious upon discovery that the account of one of the permanent secretaries swelled up to N292m in the last five months.

Our correspondents learnt that three more permanent secretaries might also face trial for alleged corruption. There had been a report on Thursday that five former permanent secretaries would face trial for alleged corruption.

It was learnt that the ICPC’s investigations were not limited to permanent secretaries that were compulsorily retired on Tuesday but also those who served in the past five months and still in service.

Findings showed that the ICPC might invite some of the permanent secretaries for interrogation upon the completion of its investigation next week.

A source in the ICPC, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “It is true that the ICPC is probing the activities of the permanent secretaries. About N292m was traced to the account of one of the recently retired permanent secretaries.

“The commission has concluded investigating some of the permanent secretaries while others are still being investigated. For those that we have concluded investigations on them, we have sent their files to relevant places for action.

“It is not exactly true that those who were not sacked by the President in the recent exercise are innocent. They are also being investigated.”

It was also learnt the ICPC had been investigating some directors and that the Federal Government had directed anti-graft agencies to place emphasis on recovery of funds from corrupt former public officers.

A Presidency source stated, “I can tell you that the focus of the government is changing. The President is more interested in recouping the stolen money.

“The President and his advisers are not unmindful of the fact that prosecution could take a long time. The President is more interested in recouping the money.

“What is happening is that the anti-graft agencies go for the facts, very strong facts that cannot be denied, confront the people with the evidence and ask them to return the funds if they don’t want to go to jail.

“And many of them are cooperating. I can tell you for sure that people are returning money.”

Our correspondent could not get the Resident Consultant, Media and Event, of the ICPC, Mr. Folu Olamiti, to react as his telephone indicated that it was switched off or in an area outside network coverage.

Buhari however on Thursday warned civil servants at all levels that his administration would not condone any act of indiscipline and corrupt practices.

He also justified his administration’s decision to drop the previous practice of administering written and oral examinations on civil servants for ascension to the rank of permanent secretaries.

Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after administering oaths of office on 16 out of the 18 new permanent secretaries whose appointments were approved on Tuesday, after retiring 17.

The remaining two new permanent secretaries were said to be out of the country as of the time their appointments were announced and that they would take their oaths at a later date.

It was also learnt the ICPC had been investigating some directors and that the Federal Government had directed anti-graft agencies to place emphasis on recovery of funds from corrupt former public officers.

A Presidency source stated, “I can tell you that the focus of the government is changing. The President is more interested in recouping the stolen money.

“The President and his advisers are not unmindful of the fact that prosecution could take a long time. The President is more interested in recouping the money.

“What is happening is that the anti-graft agencies go for the facts, very strong facts that cannot be denied, confront the people with the evidence and ask them to return the funds if they don’t want to go to jail.

“And many of them are cooperating. I can tell you for sure that people are returning money.”

Our correspondent could not get the Resident Consultant, Media and Event, of the ICPC, Mr. Folu Olamiti, to react as his telephone indicated that it was switched off or in an area outside network coverage.

Buhari however on Thursday warned civil servants at all levels that his administration would not condone any act of indiscipline and corrupt practices.

He also justified his administration’s decision to drop the previous practice of administering written and oral examinations on civil servants for ascension to the rank of permanent secretaries.

Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after administering oaths of office on 16 out of the 18 new permanent secretaries whose appointments were approved on Tuesday, after retiring 17.

The remaining two new permanent secretaries were said to be out of the country as of the time their appointments were announced and that they would take their oaths at a later date.

Meanwhile, the President of the Nigerian Voters’ Assembly, Mashood Erubami, has backed efforts of the Buhari administration to sanitise the civil service.

Erubami, in an interview with one of our correspondents, supported the merging of ministries by the President.

He said, “The adoption of alignment and merger of ministries towards sanitising the civil service and improving the efficient service delivery in the public service also fit with the portfolios,” he said.

Erubami added that Buhari had met the expectations of the people by putting round pegs in round holes.

He said, “The posting of Prof (Isaac) Adewole to man the Ministry of Health is an indeed a round peg in a round hole just as Abubakar Malami in the Ministry of Justice. Other ministers who might not have been posted to ministries of their professional callings are also in good stead because of their accrued knowledge, experiences and exposure in general administration.

“We had looked for ministers that have the genuine interest of the country in their hearts and love the country. We had expected ministers who would think beyond the box, come together to discuss and set standards for their own programmes and policies that will stand them out as the best crops of ministers that Nigeria will ever have.

“However for these ministers to be valuable to the people and the nation, they will be expected to rise up immediately after the allotment of portfolios and show daily commitment to actions, which will meet the genuine expectation of the people. This should be so because the immediate past government had inflicted lots of damage in the lives of people as a result of years of clueless and directionless governance.”

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