HOW RETIRED JUDGE FRUSTRATED 4BILLION CORRUPTION CASE AGAINST EX-MILITARY CHIEF- ICPC BOSS, OWASANOYE

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has revealed how a recently retired High Court judge frustrated the prosecution of a former military head arrested for diverting four billion Naira from the military budget into his personal use.

Though the commission didn’t reveal the name of the Judge, it said such action would hamper the fight against corruption in the country.

Speaking at a National Policy Dialogue on “Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria” in Abuja on Friday, ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye revealed that the former military boss in the twilight of his tenure deposited the sum of four billion Naira from military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is beneficial owner and sole signatory.

Owasanoye said proceeds of the funds were used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies.

He, however, said the judge in charge of the case frustrated the recovery process by deciding to forfeit some of the assets to the federal government and the rest left to the suspect.

He said: “Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than ten years cumulative sum of about N6 Billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances and in violation of extant legislation.

“The Commission’s recovery of huge cash sums in local and foreign currencies, luxury cars, customized mobile phones, designer watches including three Rolexes as well as property documents from the premises of the contractor underscore the corruption that often attend military procurement.

“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and our sister agency for embezzlement of funds allocated to security.

“For example, a former head of one of the arms of the military in the twilight of his tenure deposited the sum of four billion Naira from military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is beneficial owner and sole signatory.

“The proceeds were used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies. Some of the properties paid for by his service were also fraudulently converted to his use.

“ICPC’s prosecution of this high ranking officer to recover all the implicated assets was strangely and perversely frustrated by a recently retired High Court judge who decided to forfeit some of the assets to FGN and the rest left to the suspect.”

The ICPC boss noted that while the commission has filed notice of appeal, “this strange development aggravates an already bad situation and escalates insecurity and impunity”

He noted that another case under investigation is theft of part of special intervention fund approved for security operations by some civil servants in the line ministry who transferred about one billion to four shell companies.

According to him, a special investigative team under the leadership of National Security Adviser, NSA and ICPC recovered some of the diverted assets including state of the art building located in Abuja and over N220 million cash.

He added that Investigation in this matter is still on going.

The ICPC noted that the funds to retool and reposition the police to a world class institution is also threatened by corruption.

According to him, the newly established police special intervention framework designed to eliminate underfunding of the police, the Police Trust Fund, is already under ICPC investigation for abuse, fund diversion bogus, questionable welfare packaging that is not for the police who are the beneficiaries of the fund and sundry corrupt practices.

Quoting data from the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), the ICPC chairman said that about $15 billion had been squandered through fraudulent arms procurement deals in the last 20 years in the country.

Owasanoye said: “One may safely conclude that other security agencies are dogged by similar practices albeit to varying degrees.

“In the past 7 years the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the 9th National Assembly have ensured significantly increased funding for the security sector.

“Part of our interrogation today is why has this proactive effort not translated into commensurate effectiveness in the war against insurgency and insecurity and despite the gallant and sacrificial effort of our soldiers, policemen and other security operatives working daily to secure Nigerians.

“Experts have attributed the aggravation of insecurity partially to misapplication and misappropriation of funds in the defence sector procurement practices. Investigations by anti corruption agencies will seem to bear this out. What is worse is that soldiers are often reported in social media of complaining of being poorly-equipped and poorly motivated.”

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