No Public Official Is Immune From Investigation – ICPC Chairman

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By Tosin Omoniyi

The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, Ekpo Nta, has said that the immunity clause in the Nigerian Constitution does stop any category of public officers from being investigated.

He said although some public officers could not be prosecuted while in office, their stewardship could still be investigated by anti-graft agencies while they are still serving.

Nta, who made the clarification while featuring in a television programme monitored in Abuja said the issue of immunity does not serve as a safe haven for corrupt officials as far as the law was concerned.

According to him, immunity does not hinder the initiation of criminal investigation against such officials.

“There is no act in existence today that says you cannot investigate anybody. What it is says is that you cannot prosecute some sitting officials at certain levels,” he said.

Nta also said that the major function of anti-corruption agencies and the police was to get any accused into the law court with whatever evidence they could gather so that the law court could determine the merit of such a matter.

In defence of anti-corruption agencies, the ICPC chairman said that the prosecutor should not be blamed when such accused persons are left off the hook by the courts.

On effective monitoring of the implementation and assessment of the national budget, Nta reiterated the efforts by the anti-graft agency to get various ministries and ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, to be accountable for whatever funds they get.

“It is from there that you monitor what is going on through their oversight functions, but we do have reports from the auditor general of the federation,” he said.

He said the ICPC had been collaborating with the National Assembly committees to see those audited reports.






     

     

    He also said that at the end of every financial year, ICPC operatives go round the government agencies to ensure that unspent funds are returned to national coffers.

    “We did a lot of recoveries, thank God we now have the electronic platform which shows clearly that this fund is not there or it is here,” he said.

    Nta, who also used the opportunity to assess the on-going Bank verification Number, BVN, exercise, said it was a step in the right direction as it would curb corruption.

    “With the on-going exercise, when you tie that up with National Identity Card, the driver’s licence, the voters’ registration, there is a strong likelihood that we should be able to trace who these fraudsters are,” he stated.

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