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How corruption is fueling insecurity as military officers looted N10 bln security votes ~ICPC

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An ex-military officer has been reported to have stolen the sum of N4 billion from the military budget and deposited it into the accounts of two companies where he is the beneficial owner and sole signatory.

This is one of many corrupt practices going on in the military, which has, directly and indirectly, fueled insecurity in the country as billions of funds budgeted to procure military hardware to fight insurgence and terrorism are looted by some officers.

According to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, the proceeds from the loot were used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies of the military chief, and some of the properties paid for by his service were also fraudulently converted to his use.

Owasanoye disclosed this on Friday during an event tagged, ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria’, held at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja.

He noted that research and investigations by the National Security Agency and the ICPC on the issue of insecurity had shown that public sector corruption, directly and indirectly, enabled insecurity and could sometimes complement it.

“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by the ICPC and our sister agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 N4 billion from the military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is the 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 for 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.

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“While the commission has filed a notice of appeal, this strange development aggravates an already bad situation and escalates insecurity and impunity,” Owasanoye said.

He noted that cases of job racketeering abound in the security sector, disclosing that many of them were under investigation by the ICPC.

The ICPC boss lamented Nigeria’s worsening insecurity challenges, noting that the resulting impact on her economy and image had continued to be the cause of concern to Nigerians, including the leaders in the three arms of government and anti-corruption practitioners.

“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 N1billion to four Shell companies.

“A special investigative team under the leadership of NSA and ICPC recovered some of the diverted assets, including state of the art building located in Abuja and over N220 million cash. Investigation on this matter is still ongoing.

“In fact, a clinical diagnosis of the insecurity menace in the country reveals that to effectively combat insecurity, we require the collaborative efforts of security agencies (the military, intelligence, police, customs, Prisons, others), as well as law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies.

“There are also ongoing investigations into military contracts spending. Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than 10 years a 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, customised mobile phones, designer watches, including three Rolexes, as well as property documents from the premises of the contractor, underscore the corruption that often attends military procurement,” the ICPC stated.

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