Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, has exposed shady phoenix projects worth N400 billion that the federal government’s departments, agencies, and ministries stuffed into the 2021 and 2022 budgets.
Owasanoye made the revelation during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Finance on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja in preparation for the 2023 budget.
The ICPC’s boss also stated that N49.9 billion had been set aside for salaries for ghost workers in the first half of 2022.
He claimed that duplicate projects worth N300 billion and N100 billion were added to the budgets for 2021 and 2022, respectively, though he did not specify the agencies in question.
Owasanoye claimed that the government would have wasted billions of naira on fictitious projects if the ICPC hadn’t thoroughly examined the approved budgets for the various MDAs.
He said: “N300bn would have been wasted by the federal government on duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 budget and N100bn for same purpose in the current fiscal year if not tracked and intercepted by ICPC.
“The same pre-emptive move saved the country from spending N49.9bn for salaries of ghost workers put on fictitious pay roll by the fraudulent MDAs between January and June this year.
“Names of MDAs involved in project duplications running into intercepted billions of Naira and fictitious pay rolls are available and will be forwarded to the committee .
“The good thing about the pre-emptive moves made by us is that monies for the fraudulent acts were prevented from being released to the affected MDAs and it’s gratifying that the Finance Ministry and Accountant General Office cooperated with us,” he said.
He urged the National Assembly’s relevant committees to keep an eye out for such project duplication in the N19.76 trillion proposed budget for 2023.
“From our own end, detection of such projects is done by verifying their locations and names, upon which we tell the appropriate authorities not to release wrongly budgeted monies to them,” he added.
The ICPC’s operating expenses would increase from N1.8 billion in the upcoming 2023 budget, according to the committee’s chairman, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola.