Police Service Commission in alleged N275.5m fraud
• Body denies claim, insists N133.6m is unspent balance
• Whistle blower alleges threat to life
EVEN as the new federal administration, which rode into power on anti-corruption slogan is yet to settle down to the business of governance, a petition has been sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleging that the leadership of the Police Service Commission (PSC) has misappropriated N275.5 million.
However, the Commission has swiftly denied the allegation, maintaining there is a balance of N133. 6 million unspent in the Commission’s bank account.
Meanwhile the whistle blower, Mr. Aaron Kaase, a Principal Administrative Officer in the Press and Public Affairs Unit of the Commission, who has been placed on suspension, has cried out that some unknown persons have been threatening his life, after he submitted the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to expose the alleged financial misdemeanour of the Chairman.
The petition submitted to the anti-corruption body and copied to then President-elect, now President; Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC) Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) National Security Adviser (NSA) Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Public Accounts, Head of Civil Service Of the Federation, President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Hon. Chairman, Police Service Commission and Director Admin & Finance, Police Service Commission, titled “Attempt to swindle The Police Service Commission to the tune of N275, 525.000”, spelt out in details how the money was frittered with impunity.
He said the sum of “N350 million was sought and obtained from the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) purportedly to train her (Commission’s) staff in monitoring the conduct of the Nigeria Police in the recently concluded general elections.
With approval sought (ref. no. PSC 1499/vol/111/138 dated March 12th 2015) and again got (ref. no. BPP/S.I/SP/15/VOL.1/050 dated March 23 2015) from the Bureau of Public Procurement for “No objection” to adopt a selective tendering method for the supposed training, “Chairman Mike Okiro fraudulently and knowingly claimed that the training programme were in three (3) separate lots to be carried out in Abuja (for headquarter staff) for 500 participants, Kano (out station staff) 200 participants and Lot (3) for 200 staff participants in Lagos.”
The prices as quoted, according to Mr. Kaase, are that the Abuja training of 500 participants, was N95.5 million, awarded to Bobec and Associates. While the second lot intended for Kano for 200 participants was given at N95 million, awarded to Direct Knowledge Consult Limited and Lagos State for 200 participants at the cost of N85 million, to Tzone Communications Limited.
However, the petitioner queried that while the staff strength nationwide of the entire Commission is less than 400, Lagos and indeed the whole South West do not have an office for the commission, and the Kano State office has less than 10 members of staff working there.
Mr. Kaase further alleged in his petition that approval was given for a four-day training for the staff coming from Kano, but “a mock training of 2 hours was conducted at Northgate Hotels Limited, Mararaba Nassarawa State, instead of Kano State.
“That Bobec & Associates, who also claimed was going to conduct the exercise in Abuja, hurriedly put together 2 hours training in Oasis Hotel in Mararaba, Nasarawa state.”
Other allegations are that Mr. Okiro had in the past collected money under the pretext of travelling abroad for official duties without doing so, as indicative in his international passport.
“An example was when he collected the sum of N3, 601, 000.00, his Police orderly Inspector George Todonu collected the sum of N1, 131,000. 60, to attend the conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 25th– 28th October, 2014 in Orlando, Florida U.S.A and the Nigeria Ireland International Forum, which held in Dublin, Ireland on the 28th of October, 2014, which held at the same time without attending none,” he stated in the petition.
He therefore, maintained that Okiro has failed to refund money granted for the other three (3) days training of the staff purportedly from Kano, as approved in his request letter.
Others include the use of his personal aides “as front to collect DTA and other allowances namely Supreme Ibitomi and CSP Peter Opara and other S.As.
He used them to collect over N2 million as DTA during the March 28 and April 12, 2015 general election,” beside other frivolous claims as contained in the account books of the commission.
When The Guardian sought the reaction of the Commission on these allegations, spokesperson of the Commission Ikechukwu Ani said the petitioner “Mr. Kaase levelled series of false and malicious accusations against the person of the Chairman…obviously with intent to embarrass and ridicule the Chairman.
We confirm that as a build up to the 2015 General Elections, the Commission relying on provisions of its Establishment Act, sought for funding from various sources but received only the sum of N350 million from a source for the training of monitors for the exercise and monitoring of the conduct of policemen deployed for election duties during the elections.
Saying this is a standard practice and the appropriate permission was sought and gotten from the BPP to get experts to train the staff of the commission, “although the Commission had initially scheduled trainings in Lagos for staff and other auxiliary personnel such as NYSC members, IT students, policemen and some members of the Police Community Relations Committee that were to be deployed in the South West for the exercise and the same for Kano for those to be deployed to the North and Abuja for the intended remaining monitors for the effective coverage of 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
“It could not go ahead with the plan because the approval from Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) came late,” Ani said.
The spokesperson again confirmed that the staff strength of the Commission is less than 400 as stated by Kaase, but he said the staff to be trained included National Youth Services Corp (NYSC) members and interns, but did not say the number the number in the last two categories.
But the issue is that the Commission had earlier intended to source for auxiliary staff to assist it monitor the exercise for wider and effective coverage.
“We want to put it on record that there was no expenditure of the sum of N275, 525, 000 for the training of the Commission’s staff for the Monitoring exercise…It should also be noted that the expenditures were drawn from the N350 million received by the Commission. As at today the Commission still has a balance of N133, 641,795.49 in its special account for the exercise.”
He gave a breakdown of expenditure to include Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) and travelling expenses for monitoring exercise N180, 957,000.00. Payment to consultants N28, 361,654.01, DTA for Staff Training for one day N6, 902,000.00, Telephone lines and Handsets for Staff N792, 500.00 and Poster/handbills/ID Cards N375, 000.00 among others, which amount to N217, 388,154.
“The balance of N132, 611,845. 99 is in the bank account of the Commission. The Chairman has not touched any kobo of the money.
This is also verifiable.” Ani denied that the Commission’s helmsman collected money for an official trip abroad but did not go nor “used any Special Assistant nor Personal Assistant to defraud the government,” among others, to this end the petition “is fictitious, frivolous and an affront on the Public Service Rules which clearly provides procedures for an aggrieved staff to pursue his/her grievance.
The Commission is presently looking into the rules and will surely allow the law to take its course.
“The Commission considers these allegations very serious and has therefore requested the appropriate agencies to investigate them for the benefit of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, Kaase has cried out that he has received several threats from anonymous callers since a copy of the petition was submitted to the Commission, but he has his facts and would not cower in the face of it all that is why he did not use a pseudo or fictitious name, because “no one fights corruption and goes unscathed.”
I am ready to pay the supreme price if need be. “They said I would be sacked from the civil service, but on remembering that there are procedures for that, they have resorted to threatening my life, but what I have petitioned is the truth, the facts are there and are verifiable too,” he said.