Corruption hinders governors from enacting procurement act, PCC insists.
The fear of being jailed under the Public Procurement Act has made some state governors to shun the legislation in their respective states, says the executive secretary of Public Complaints Commission (PCC), Mr. Bala Abdul.
He stated this during the first annual public lecture in honor of Professor Jonah Elaigwu in Jos, Plateau State, at the weekend.
Due to the absence of legislation that prohibits over-invoicing of government contracts and related purchases in many states, corruption has continued to thrive unhindered in the public sector at the detriment of the states and their people, Abdul, who was the guest speaker at the event, added.
His words: “There is so much crisis in Nigeria today as a result of corruption. There is electoral corruption, nepotism, favoritism and other forms of corruption in Nigeria’s public sector, including procurement scam whereby the purchase of an item is inflated.
“Anybody who takes you to the court of law under the procurement act is considered your worst enemy because they can hardly escape [jail]. That is why some state governors have not enacted the procurement act in their states.”
The public lecture themed ‘Fiscal Federalism and the Question of Return of Looted Assets and Proceeds of Crime’ was organized by the 1982-1992 Political Science Alumni of the University of Jos.
Abdul noted that fiscal federalism in Nigeria was characterized by constant struggle and agitation for change and resource control due to the “centrifugal and centripetal tendencies in our disaggregate system”, which often impacted negatively on the country’s economy.
He identified asset recovery as a means of fighting corruption and promoting development in the country as shown by increased allocations to pro-poor sectors following the repatriation of $505 million from Switzerland.
When following a traditional conviction-based approach to asset recovery, investigators must do more than locate the offenders and acquire sufficient evidence to connect the assets obtained to the unlawful activity, so that judicial order for confiscation can be obtained, he warned.
Abdul added: “There are more than 14 anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria. Mere tracking, tracing, freezing of corrupt funds and looted assets have not helped the third world countries, despite various Mutual Legal Assistance entered with the first world countries under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
“Where looted resources are identified, frozen and confiscated, the victim state is never indemnified.”