Federal agencies inflated payroll by N41 billion – ICPC

President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime says it has uncovered fraud in some government agencies amounting to N41 billion. 

The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission’s Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, stated that the commission had recovered N41 billion from some government agencies and institutions who fraudulently inflated their workers’ payroll.

Mr Owasanoye disclosed this during a briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team (set up to update Nigerians on President Muhammadu Buhari’s security, economy, and anti-corruption agenda). 

According to him, the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System’s introduction has helped expose fraudulent practices in public service.

“Outside falsification of capital importation, the use of tax havens, the unequal tax reporting regime of the international community, a whole range of things. Take the extractive industry, for example, the oil and gas sector – Nigeria loses a lot of money to bad clauses and contracts that we have foolishly signed over time,” he revealed.

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In a related development, a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, via a series of tweet posts on Monday night, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime had initiated a lifestyle audit.

The country’s anti-graft agencies will now investigate persons suspected of living above their legitimate income.

“Lifestyle Audit is now legal in Nigeria. Those who flaunt lifestyles they cannot afford, can now be investigated by any of the graft agencies to produce evidence of the sources of their wealth. 

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“You can now be called upon to explain how you acquired certain properties,” Ms Onochie tweeted.

In January, Matthew Page, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, had urged the UK government to make tackling illicit financial flows from Nigeria a priority. 

According to him, some families in Nigeria have a long tradition of sending their children to private boarding schools and universities in the UK. 

“These institutions are especially popular destinations for the offspring of prominent politically exposed persons (PEPs) from the region,” he noted. 

He pointed out that immigration officials, admissions staff, and UK law enforcement “are not likely to scrutinise the conditions under which the children of PEPs enrol in British schools,” even though the PEPs may have opaque asset profiles that in other circumstances would raise serious financial concerns. 

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“This relative lack of review has allowed some West African PEPs to channel unexplained wealth into the UK education sector. It is not easy to estimate the overall value of this flow, yet it likely exceeds £30 million annually. Most of these funds emanate from Nigeria,” Mr Page revealed.

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