ICPC reiterates the importance of plea bargain in corruption cases

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 …Lists achievements in curbing public sector fraud

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has explained that plea bargain still remains one of the most effective strategies of recovering funds diverted by public officials without the rigors of technicalities in the court.

Chairman of the ICPC, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu stated this in Lagos at a media briefing to flag off the Commission’s two-day Strategic Action Plan Workshop where he also shed light on the Report of the 2024 National Budget Analysis and outcome of the Phase 6 of the Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Exercise conducted by the Commission. The event held in Lagos on 29 April 2024.

Dr. Aliyu told newsmen that prosecution often takes long in many cases allowing suspects to fritter away their loot, with many even using such proceeds of corruption to pay for their defense hence the plea bargain option is a short cut that saves time and makes impact.

Aliyu revealed that the Commission has handled some cases that have been in the court for almost 10 years and fraught with technicalities even as he added that such cases are a waste of time that will also not benefit the nation.

“In deserving cases we use plea bargain to help the nation get some of the money back,” he stated.

Speaking on the Commission’s Constituency and Executive Project Tracking Initiative (CEPTI), the ICPC boss said the initiative has enhanced the Commission’s ability to proactively prevent and eradicate the diversion of public funds in the implementation of public funded projects, and helped it identify, investigate and prosecute persons who sabotage the projects and violate provisions of the ICPC act, 2000, or any other law prohibiting corruption.

The report showed that a total of ₦219.844 billion from 176 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) since 2019 were tracked. The exercise focused on key sectors including agriculture, education, healthcare, and infrastructure, cutting across 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory in the nation’s six geo-political zones.

Aliyu pointed out that the Phase 6 exercise which commenced in November, 2023 through quarter one of 2024 is made up of 1,721 government-funded projects in the tracking cycle with investigations focusing on under-performed projects, shoddily executed projects, abandoned projects and certification of projects as completed when such projects have not been completed.

He lamented that there were many cases of hoarding of empowerment projects meant to be distributed to particular beneficiaries to empower them or alleviate their poverty while some of such items were distributed through proxies.

He revealed also that some agencies were in the habit of handing over empowerment items to stakeholders for onward distribution to the intended beneficiaries.

On the Commission’s breakthroughs he disclosed that projects involving contractors returning to sites in the period in view totaled 176, appropriations for tracked projects amounted to ₦220 billion with contracts value of all projects tracked standing at ₦285 billion. The value of projects for which contractors returned to sites were ₦30 billion and cash recoveries as at the time of the report standing at ₦163 million, among others. A total of 1355 contractors/companies were involved.

To ensure synergy in the work of the Commission, the ICPC boss said his team met with the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy to explore strategies of leveraging digital public infrastructure in the anti-corruption campaign.

The collaboration, he stressed, aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision for a technology-driven fight against corruption.

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