HURIWA FAULTS ARRAIGNMENT OF POLICE COMMISSION'S DIRECTOR BY ICPC:
Alleging underhand deal in the selective arraignment of the Director of Finance and administration of the Police Service Commission Mr. Emma Ibe by the Independent Corrupt practices and allied offences commission (ICPC) for alleged N11.7 million fraud, the ICPC has been taken to task and urge to redeem its credibility.
The above is the position canvassed by the Pro-transparency and Non-Governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) in a media release endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf.
The Rights group also called on the Director General of the Department of State Services Alhaji Musa Lawal Daura to take proactive measures to forestall any breach of peace in Katsina State and Northern Nigeria in general following a story in circulation that Islamic Clerics in Katsina are preaching to their adherents the unsubstantiated but toxic claim that the ailing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari from Katsina State is a victim of some sort of poisoning.
On the reported arraignment of the Police service commission's Director of Finance and administration the Rights group said it was unthinkable that the Director could be picked up and maliciously charged by the Independent Corrupt practices and allied offences commission for an alleged wrongful payments of travelling allowances whereas the Chairman of the Police Service Commission Mr. Mike Okiro a retired Police Inspector General who is the final approving authority and even the Permanent Secretary who by virtue of section 111 of the Finance(Control and Management) Act, CAP A15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria of 2004 is the chief accounting officer of the Police Service Commission were left out of the nebulous but entirely laughable charge.
Specifically, Section 111 (1) of the Finance (Control and Management) Act affirmed as follows: "The term 'accounting officer' means the Permanent Secretary of the ministry or the head of extra-ministerial office and other arms of government who is in full control of, and is responsible for human, material and financial resources which are critical inputs in the management of an organization ".
Section 111(ii) (a) (b) (c) states as follows: “The Accounting Officer shall: (a) be responsible for safeguarding of public funds and the regularity and propriety of expenditure under his control; (b) observe and comply fully with the checks and balances spelt out in the existing Financial Regulations which govern receipts and disbursement of Public Funds and other assests entrusted to his care and shall be liable for any breach thereof; and (c) note that his accountability does not cease by virtue of his leaving office and that he may be called upon at any time to account for his tenure as Accounting Officer.
HURIWA said apart from the inexplicable non-involvement of the key accounting and approval authorities in the charges instituted by the ICPC which emanated from a petition alleging N275 million fraud against the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the ICPC also did originated a written report of the investigation in which it ruled out any criminal charges since most of the findings bordered on administrative issues.
Besides, HURIWA said it was shocked that the Director of Finance Mr. Emma Ibe who never paid out nor benefited from the payments of travelling allowances could be roped into these strange charges of fraud whereas the Commissioners, Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the Permanent Secretary amongst other staff who benefitted from the said payments were left out may be because they have political godfathers in the office of public prosecutor of the Federation.
HURIWA recalled that Mr. Emmanuel Ibe, Director of Finance, Police Service Commission (PSC), was reportedly arraigned in court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over alleged mismanagement of N11, 750,000 belonging to PSC.
He was arraigned on a nine-count charge before Justice C.N. Oji of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court 21, Apo.
While laying the charge on Mr. Ibe, ICPC’s counsel, Mr. Golden Iwuagwu, averred that the accused fraudulently paid N11, 750,000 to some PSC staff as airfare and airport taxi allowances for official trips to seven states to which there are no connecting flights from Abuja. The alleged offence took place in March 2015. Mr. Iwuagwu informed the court that the director facilitated the payment of the money to the said staff of PSC to travel from Abuja to Bauchi, Niger, Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Nassarawa and the FCT, thereby breaching Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same section.
Mr. Ibe pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him by Justice Oji.
Criticizing the muddy process which was adopted by ICPC in reaching a conclusion to single out an apparently innocent and diligent public officer, the group reminded the ICPC of its conclusive findings on the alleged fraud of N275.525, 000 in a petition drawn up by a staff against the Chairman of the Police Service Commission.
The ICPC had in the report of her investigation ruled out any criminal indictments of any officer of the Police Service Commission.
HURIWA said the report endorsed by Mr. Ekpo Eta the Chairman of ICPC was titled "RE: IVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES: Petition Against Sir (Dr.) Mike Mbama Okiro, Chairman, Police Service Commission for Corruption, Abuse of Office and Fraudulent Act to Swindle the Police Service Commission to the tune of N275,525,000 only."
HURIWA quoted the ICPC report dated 6th August 2015 as stating as follows: "The above captioned petitioned forwarded from your office on the 25th May, 2015, refers."
In the report the ICPC averred thus: "The Commission has conducted thorough investigation into the matters raised in the referred petition and found: ( i.) That the Police Service Commission (PSC) received the sum of Three hundred and fifty million naira (N350m) from the Federal Government to monitor the conduct of Police Personnel at the recently conducted General election. The commission budgeted to expend the fund on training and physical monitoring during the elections ;( ii.) Investigation findings revealed that the Commission budgeted for training of 900 staff and to conduct training in Abuja, Lagos and Kano. However, the entire staff force was not more than 391 and that is the figure actually trained in a programme held in Abuja only. The Commission accepted the explanation that due process could not be adhered to strictly because of time constraint; (iii) The Police Service Commission paid DTA to all staff including those based in Abuja that participated in the training programmed held within Abuja. Air-Ticket and DTA were paid to Management staff and others who monitored elections within Abuja and its environs; even at locations were Airports do not exist as such as Lokoja and Minna (schedule of affected officers attached)( iv) It was also confirmed that the Chairman collected 5days each for two Conferences that ran simultaneously in Durblin and Orlando, Florida. However, it was discovered that he expended the entire 10days on the trip. Though, he only expended the ticket-fare for Abuja-Durblin-Abuja, he has however, written to the Presidency to expend the ticket fare for Abuja-Orlando-Abuja on another trip coming up by October, 2015.
HURIWA reminded that ICPC that it had concluded in the report also that: "The investigation has not revealed any act of criminal infraction against the person of Sir (Dr.) Mike Mbama Okiro, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission as all issues outlined above are administrative in nature and within the ambits of careers public servants handlings. Consequently, this Commission hereby direct as follows: (a) That, the total balance of N133,413,845.99 from the N350,000,000 2015 Election monitoring exercise domiciled within FCMB be remitted to the Federal Treasury through the ICPC Recovery Account No. 1012929790 at Zenith Bank Plc; (b) That, the Staff of your Commission who took part in the 2015 General Election Monitoring Exercise and were paid 2-way Return Ticker and Airport Taxi to location within FCT and States of close proximity to Abuja amounting N11,750,000 (list attached) should refund same to the Treasury through the ICPC Recovery Account No. 1012929790 at Zenith Bank Plc;(c) That, if the Presidency approves of the utilization of the application by the Chairman to utilize the Abuja-Orlando-Abuja airfare for an upcoming conference, we will consider the matter. However, if approval is refused the fund thereof should be returned to the Police Service Commission and ICPC so informed;(4) The Permanent Secretary is invited to note that investigation is on-going on the allegation of corrupt demand for gratification by the Publisher of “Pilot Newspaper” and his Editor. The conclusion of the matter shall be communicated in due course."
HURIWA in an unrelated development raised alarmed that the social media is inundated with information that Islamic Clerics in Katsina are preaching to their followers that President Muhammadu Buhari was poisoned. "We urge the DSS to put measures in place to forestall any attacks against Christians by overzealous Islamic fanatics whose minds are being polluted with the fake story of the poisoning of President Muhammadu Buhari."