How Lawmakers pocket billions of constituency project funds

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CONSTITUENCY PROJECT

How Lawmakers pocket billions of constituency project funds

Nigerian federal lawmakers, in connivance with executing agencies, have perfected fraudulent means of pocketing billions of naira under the guise of constituency projects, a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said.

One of the means used in the fraudulent scheme is the duplication of contracts using the same description, same narrative, same amount, same location and awarded by the same agency.

This, the ICPC said, is done by lawmakers to bring the amounts allocated to them within certain approval threshold of executing agencies so as to avoid ministerial tenders, the report found.

Another method used in stealing public funds is the insertion into budgets of a series of fluidy species of constituency projects termed “capacity building and empowerment projects,” which entails training and distribution of items and even cash to constituents.

“These Capacity Building and Empowerment projects have become a convenient conduit for embezzling public funds by the sponsoring legislators and the executing agency as they are difficult to track and verify due to their “soft” nature,” the report, which was signed by Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, ICPC, read.

The report, Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG), which is in its first phase, tracked 424 projects from 2015–2018 zonal intervention projects (also called constituency projects) between June and August, 2019, across 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The states include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Osun and Sokoto.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in November said there has been very little benefits to the grassroots from the ₦1 trillion that had been earmarked for constituency projects in the last 10 years.

Source: Premium Times



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