Exclusive! Senate's ICPC Act Amendment, Threat To Nigeria's Corruption Fight

Jun 1, 2023 - 10:17
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Exclusive! Senate's ICPC Act Amendment, Threat To Nigeria's Corruption Fight
By Adetokunbo FAKEYE 
The Nigerian Senate in exercising its statutory power of amending and enacting laws for the citizens of Nigeria sometimes do this to favour them. One of such is the amendment of one of the Nigeria anti-corruption agencies Act, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC Act 2000. This action of our lawmakers has now whittled down the powers of the ICPC CHAIRMAN and the Commission. 
The actions, as uncovered by ProwlingEagles are not unconnected with the prevention of corruption through the constituency projects.
As uncovered, ICPC has forced 450 contractors to return to project sites to complete abandoned projects valued at over ₦45 billion.
Under the constituency and executive projects tracking initiative by ICPC which is in its fifth stage as uncovered, the anti-graft agency has tracked about 4,000 projects valued at about ₦200 billion.
The Senate in Sections 3(5), 3(6), 3(7), 3(8), 3(9) and 3(10) of the Principal Act amended the Act by substituting the word ‘board members’ with the word ‘commissioners’.
The red chamber further amended Section 3 of the Principal Act by inserting a new subsection 3(11) creating offices for the Commissioners of the Commission.
The new subsection 3(11) states as follows, "The Commissioners of the Commission shall have the following offices:
i.  Commissioner (Investigative Matters),
ii. Commissioner (Legal Matters),
iii Commissioner (Prevention, Systems Review and Financial Intelligence),
iv Commissioner (Asset Recovery and Management),
v  Commissioner (Anti-Corruption Education and Mobilization),
vi Commissioner, (Forensics and Emerging Technologies),
vi Zonal Commissioner, North East
viii Zonal Commissioner, North Central
ix Zonal Commissioner, North West
x. Zonal Commissioner, South East
xi. Zonal Commissioner, South South
xii. Zonal Commissioner, South West
"Provided always that in assigning responsibilities to the Commissioners, the President shall have regard to their geo-political zones and respective disciplines". 
The implication of the amendment of Section 3 of the Principal Act and the new subsection 3(11) is the whittling down of the powers of the Chairman of the Commission unlike other law enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and Nigeria Customs Service, among others.
The powers of law enforcement agencies cannot be subject to decisions of Committees and political considerations.
The Senate also amended Section 4(2) of the Principal Act. The new subsection (2) states that the quorum for meetings shall be ‘any five board members’ and the five members in attendance shall appoint a Chairman to preside over the meetings. 
The import of this amendment is that ‘any five members’ of the board can meet and take far reaching decisions.
In further attempts at whittling down the powers of the Chairman of the Commission, the Senate also amended Section 7 of the Principal Act on the issuance of administrative orders by the Chairman of the Commission called "standing orders".
While Section 4(2) of the original ICPC Act states that the Chairman and any four board members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for meetings, the Senate amended the existing subsection (2) for a new subsection (2).
Section 7 (1) of the Principal Act states, “The Chairman may issue administrative orders to be called “standing orders”, which shall conform with the provisions of the general control, training, duties and responsibilities of officers of the commission and for such other matters as may be necessary or expedient for the good administration of the Commission and to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the Commission.
The Senate amended Section 7(1) of the Principal Act by substituting the word ‘Chairman’ for the word ‘Commission’.
The legislators also whittled down the punishment of 7 years for offering and accepting gratifications in Sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Principal Act.
The amendments posed serious threat to the fight against corruption in the country which the Commission has doggedly fought for over two decades.
ProwlingEagles reliably gathered that some members of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes were also influenced by some board members in ICPC who have been seeking more powers for the board members unlike what obtains in other anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement agencies. 
The amendments of the Act of this important agency in fighting against corruption that is killing Nigeria have grave implications for the Commission and the country in general.
The actions of our lawmakers in this regard is tantamount to getting back at the ICPC Chairman and its operatives over the Chairman unyielding posture with respect to the constituency projects
The actions of can also be deemed outlandish as no public hearing was called by the upper house before the purported amendment of the ICPC Act 2000.
However, the House of Representatives has not finalised on its review of the Act 
As learnt, the Senate amended the Act inside the office of the Senate Committee Chairman with a few members of the committee which was now taken to the whole Senate and they refused to call a public hearing because they knew people would against their action. 

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