The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has called for a thorough investigation into the alleged procurement of substandard equipment totalling N11 billion by the management of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF).
The group wants officials who are culpable to be brought to book.
This call was made to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and particularly to the chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye.
In a letter dated 6 October, AFRICMIL asked Mr Owasanoye to use his good offices “to get to the root of the scandalous breach of the Act establishing the NPTF, as well as the wilful disregard of the recommendation of the KPMG report which clearly established the grounds for prudent management of the Trust Fund.”
Among the substandard equipment allegedly procured by the NPTF are bullet proof vests which were expected to possess resistant shields on two sides but was only effective on one, ThisDay newspaper reports which it said was incapable of protecting police personnel in a possible shootout with criminals.
Helmets and Toyota Buffalo vehicles were also procured but fell far short of the required standard.
The procurement breaches Section 11 of the NPTF Act which states that the Board of Trustees is responsible for ”Setting out the policies and programmes for the training and training of personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and it’s auxiliary staff in Nigeria and abroad in accordance with objective of the Act.
”Approving the disbursement of money from the Trust Fund to finance projects or activities of the Nigerian Police Force and Police Institutions beneficiaries of the Proceeds of Trust Fund.”
Former Inspector General of Police and Chairman NPTF Board, Suleiman Abba, had since appeared before the ICPC investigation team.
He had told Vanguard newspaper that the management of the Police Trust Fund solely went about the procurement of the sub-standared equipment without his knowledge “while doing everything possible to frustrate both him and his staff from resuming work at the office provided for them by the Nigerian Police Force.”
In a statement, Chido Onumah, the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, the group said it is following developments in the case and expressed support for ICPC in this monumental task.
In line with the Commission’s customary adherence to professionalism, AFRICMIL sought a thorough, painstaking and dispassionate engagement with all the issues surrounding the controversial management of the Trust Fund.
AFRICMIL asked the ICPC to get to the root of the “scandalous breach” of the Act establishing the NPTF, as well as the complete disregard of the recommendations in the KPMG report which set the ground rules for prudent management of the Trust Fund.
“There is no doubt that ICPC will find out that the firm disregard for due process by the Executive Secretary is at the heart of the procurement of poor-quality security equipment and machineries for the Nigeria Police Force which has outraged many people across the country, including the Inspector of General of Police,” it said.
It said its findings revealed that among the equipment said to have been purchased for police personnel, the bullet proof vests, helmets and some of the Toyota Buffalo vehicles fell far short of the required standard and urged ICPC to scrutinise the equipment and other items procured to see whether they meet the needs of the police.
The ICPC, it said, should be interested in investigating what the sum of N722.6 million out of the N1.6 billion released as takeoff grant of the secretariat of the Trust Fund was used for.
“This amount was said to have been spent within five months even as accommodation and other necessary equipment had been provided free by the Nigeria Police Force.
“A situation where the Executive Secretary conducts business without the consent of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees or, in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Procurement, literally usurps the powers of the Board in flagrant violation of Sections 11(b) and 12(1)a of NPTF Act 2019, is a gross misconduct that should not be condoned by the ICPC and citizens who mean well for the police and our country,” part of the statement read.
AFRICMIL also noted that the police trust fund fraud is “one of huge interest to the people because of the institution and the personalities involved”. The organisation said it had confidence in ICPC to deal with the issue professionally in the interest of justice.