The ICPC has urged the federal government to suspend the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, and 32 other public officers/civil servants currently undergoing corruption trial.
The Commission, which is prosecuting the officials, said they should be suspended from office pending the conclusion of the cases.
The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission also asked the government to, in line with the Public Service Rules, mete out appropriate punishment(s) to other civil servants already convicted for various offences.
The requests are contained in a letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
The ICPC said the 33 officials who should be suspended are standing trial for offences such as bribery, certificate forgery, making false statements, conspiracy to steal and outright misappropriation of public funds.
The offences fall under “Serious Acts of Misconduct” in the Public Service Rules.
Section 4 Rule 030402 of the document defines serious acts of misconduct as “specific act of very wrongdoing and improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the service and which can be investigated and if proven, may lead to dismissal.”
The Federal Ministry of Health tops the list with five of its officials recommended for suspension.
The anti-graft agency also requested the suspension of three officials of the then Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and another three from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The Nigeria Prisons Service, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have two officials each on the list.
Apart from the NBC, the Commission recommended the suspension of one official each from the NSITF, Federal Ministry of Interior, Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Housing Authority, Federal Civil Service Commission, Nigeria Army and the Bayelsa Liaison Office in Abuja.
Case against NBC Director-General
The anti-graft agency said it is prosecuting Mr Kawu for “using (his) position to confer corruption advantage.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the Commission on May 2 arraigned Mr Kawu and two others, Dipo Onifade and Lucky Omoluwa, over alleged N2.5 billion fraud.
The trio, who are being prosecuted on 12-count charges, allegedly conspired with each others to use the position of Mr Kawu to confer corrupt advantage on Mr Omoluwa, his friend and associate.
The accused allegedly recommended to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to approve payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd owned by Mr Omoluwa as “Seed Grant” under the Digital Switch-Over Programme of the federal government.
Referring to Mr Kawu, the charge sheet said he made the recommendation to the minister “when you knew that the same company was not entitled to receive such grant and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 26 (1c) and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
However, the court granted Mr Kawu and his co-defendants bail the same day after they pleaded not guilty to all the charges through their counsel.
Mr Kawu declined comment when PREMIUM TIMES reached him on phone on Saturday.
The NBC boss merely said “I can hear you”’ and then cut the line when this reporter asked if he was aware of the recommendation for his suspension.
The ICPC said two officials of the NPS – Musa Yayangida and Ahmed Abdu – are facing trial in court for allegedly demanding and receiving “bribe for employment.”
Abutu Godwin, Iyang Ekong Gibson and Adeyemo Sunday Samson of the NSCDC, the anti-graft agency stated, are being charged for allegedly demanding and receiving bribe for employment, certificate forgery and criminal breach of trust, respectively.
Akpama Oden Alison and Victor Igboanugo, an engineer, are two officials of the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta in court.
While Mr Alison is accused of certificate forgery, Mr Igboanugo who currently works at the Federal Ministry of Education, is being charged for alleged “gratification and conferring corrupt advantage.”
Ukwunna Anthony of NSITF and Celine Odiozopara of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) are also standing trial for allegedly demanding and receiving bribes for employment, according to ICPC.
On their part, Alhassan Ndagi Mohammed and Johnson Kolawole, both staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, are being prosecuted for alleged forgery/stealing and conferring corrupt advantage, respectively. Mr Kolawole’s case has been on since 2008 at an Abuja High Court.
Three officials of the then Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing are also being prosecuted by the Commission.
They are Mohammed Musa Abimiku and Alexander Micah Paman both of who are standing trial for alleged “misappropriation of 5 million Naira, making false statements and conferring corrupt advantage” since 2014 and Anthony Udoma for “fraudulent acquisition of property,” since 2012.
ICPC said Aliyu Ibrahim, Williams Oluwole and Ibrahim Adamu, all of the Federal Ministry of Health were charged to the High Court for alleged conspiracy and stealing while Yelwa Musa Shehu and Martins Ogwu of the same ministry were charged with “making false statements.”
Lawal Babatunde and Adelegan Taofeek of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and their counterparts in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kaka Dauda and Sunday Nweke, are in court for alleged “conspiracy and making false statements.”
Two officials of the FCTA, Godfrey Ndubuisi Opara and Suleiman Aminu Bello, ICPC said, are standing trial for allegedly “using office to confer corruption advantage.”
The Commission did not list the offence committed by Abel Friday Monday, an official of the Federal Ministry of Interior, it, however, said Martha Alexander of the Federal Ministry of Environment is standing trial for alleged stealing since 2015.
It further stated that Mahmoud Aliyu of the Federal Housing Authority is being prosecuted for alleged conversion and stealing.
ICPC also recommended the suspension of Sam Newline Youdugha, a major in the Nigerian Army, as well as Harold Ipregha Tautogu, a staff of the Bayelsa State Liaison Office in Abuja. Mr Youdugha, the commission, said is being prosecuted for alleged forgery and cheating while Mr Tautogu was arraigned for “making false statements and forgery.”
It is not clear whether the officials also underwent in-house investigations or faced other disciplinary measures as required by Rules 030411 of the Public Service Rules.
In the same letter to the SGF, the anti-graft outfit also informed the federal government of the conviction of other public/civil servants and that relevant provision of the Public Service Rules be invoked against them.
Top on the list is Sa’ad Alanamu, a member of the Board of National Population Commission (NPC) who was convicted alongside two others by a Kwara State High Court, Ilorin for “using office to confer corrupt advantage on self and receiving gratification of N5 million from a contractor contrary to Sections 8, 10 & 19 of the ICPC Act.”
Mr Alanamu, a former Chairman of the Governing Council of Kwara Polytechnic, was nominated into the Board of ICPC in 2017 but was later dropped on an allegation of corruption which the Commission was investigating.
The accused were convicted and sentenced on May 30, 2019 to five years imprisonment and seven years imprisonment on different counts and will also pay a fine of N25 million.
Also on the list are Patrick Pillah and Lugard Edegbe, both of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, the Commission said.
While Mr Edegbe was the Director of Lands at AMAC, Mr Pillah is currently a deputy director with the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
The ICPC said they were convicted on December 10, 2018 by the Federal High Court Abuja presided over by Justice Senchi for “conspiring to confer corrupt advantage on themselves by diverting allocated plots of land to their private company.”
The duo was sentenced to 30 days imprisonment.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Ndanusa Sandas, and a staff of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources were found guilty of “making false statements, impersonation and conspiracy” and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
It further said Charles Adedeji of the Department of Protocols and Passages of the University of Ibadan was sentenced to six months imprisonment without an option of fine on January 16, 2018 for conferring corrupt advantage on himself.
Similarly, an FCT High Court in Bwari convicted Dandaura Joshua of the NSCDC for “conferring corrupt advantage and cheating.” The anti-graft agency however said Mr Joshua is at large though his sentencing was reserved on April 10 this year.
The ICPC said a staff of the Department of Records, Maitama District Hospital, Abuja, Victoria Oko Inaku, was found guilty of “forgery and possession of forged documents” and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
Although, the Commission did not recommend specific disciplinary measures against the convicted officials, they might be dismissed going by the provisions of the Public Service Rules.
Willy Bassey, the Director of Information in the Office of the SGF, denied knowledge of the request by the ICPC.
“I’m not aware,” Mr Bassey told PREMIUM TIMES on phone on Saturday.
When contacted, ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, denied knowledge of the particular letter and list of names which this newspaper referred to.
She, however, said as a routine, the Commission sends names public and civil servants being prosecuted asking for their suspension in line with Public Service Rules.
“But our experience is that they (accused) are still carrying out their day to day schedule of duty. People may not know that once you have a criminal case and you are in court you shouldn’t be working,” she said.
“So, what we try to do by sending such list (I’m not talking about this particular one) is to call government’s attention that a person is standing trial for a criminal offence in court and the person shouldn’t be working until his case is over.”