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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in a report has accused National Assembly members of stealing billions in public funds all in the name of constituency projects.
The anti-graft agency in the report issued on Sunday tagged “Constituency Projects Tracking Group”, said that it tracked 424 projects from 2015-2018 constituency projects between June and August 2019 across the 12 states of Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Osun and Sokoto as well as the FCT.
In the report signed by its chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, theICPCindicted lawmakers of duplicating contracts using the same description, same narrative, same amount, and same location and awarded by the same agency.
It also alleged insertion into budgets of constituency projects under the guise of “capacity building and empowerment projects”.
The ICPC in the report further said; “These Capacity Building and Empowerment projects have become a convenient conduit for embezzling public funds by the sponsoring legislators and the executing agency as they are difficult to track and verify due to their “soft” nature,” the report said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November said there has been very little benefits to the grassroots from the ₦1 trillion that had been earmarked for constituency projects in the last 10 years.
“This is so in spite of the wide disproportionality between appropriations for constituency projects and statutory projects of some implementing agencies, especially those of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency and Border Community Development Agency.
“For instance, in 2015, while the total mandate allocation for SMEDAN was N1,592,323,599, constituency projects allocation was N5,814,369,579,” the report said.
“95 per cent of these constituency projects allocations were for empowerment and capacity building projects. This appropriation jumped up in 2016 to N11,120,099,958; 741 per cent of mandate budget with empowerment and capacity building projects taking 99% of the amount.”
“The size, number and types of zonal Intervention projects domiciled in SMEDAN and BCDA, for instance, have turned them into conduits for, and means of abuse of constituency projects and therefore vulnerable to corruption,” the report added.