ICPC blames inability to prosecute ex-governors on lack of funds
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday blamed its inability to prosecute former governors on inadequate funding.
Outgoing chairman of the commission, Ekpo Nta, said this during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja. He revealed that there were 32 pending cases against former governors but paucity of funds hindered the commission from prosecuting them during his time in office.
His words: “They didn’t provide funding. Their cases were to have been handled by special investigators but I have taken a more proactive step by requesting the amendment of the ICPC Act.
“When such instances reoccur, the matters should have preliminary investigations by the ICPC because we have the personnel that can do the investigations. And when we are satisfied with the investigation, we can now transmit that to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) if he wants to continue with that process.”
Nta said in spite of the funding challenges, he was able to initiate some reforms while in office, adding that the immediate mandate was to improve the quality of cases going to the court.
“I have had more convictions since coming in than previously. We’ve had a lot more petitions coming in because I introduced electronic reporting of petitions to the commission. I also introduced a toll-free line so that petitioners do not have to spend their money to call us,” he added.
The newly appointed ICPC Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, who canvassed the passage of the Bill, lamented that lack of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), whistle-blowing and witness protection policies were slowing down effective campaign against corruption.
Owasanoye earlier insisted that the country’s judiciary had the most important role to play in the effort to change the country’s corruption rating.
“Improving the sanctions and enforcement regime in anti-corruption campaigns is crucial. It involves the commitment of all stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice such as the prosecution, defence, judiciary and the prison authorities.”