The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on Wednesday said it had seized 100 houses acquired with proceeds from corruption in Abuja and environs.
An ICPC Commissioner, Alhaji Isa Salami, who said this in Calabar, Cross River State capital, explained that the houses were seized by the commission within the last four months.
Salami said the commission was currently prosecuting a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, for allegedly diverting N16bn belonging to the force to his personal use.
He said he was in Calabar to represent the Chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, at a two-day retreat on awareness of the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
According to Nta, the ICPC will also concentrate on aspects of the law to examine persons suspected of living above their means through the assets they acquire.
He said, “This will be either by way of buildings or vehicles or even fat bank accounts, if they are unable to defend these things when they come to our notice through our intelligence unit. Once we apprehend anybody, we do not need to go to court; the chairman of ICPC has powers to gazette the seizure of these assets.
“And it is now up to you to go to court and prove that you inherited or own them legitimately, otherwise those assets, after a year, become state property. So far we have seized over 100 houses in Abuja and environs within the last three or four months.”
The Commissioner also delivered a paper on Accountability, Transparency in Fiscal Operations on behalf of the ICPC Chairman at the occasion.
He said the ICPC had published a Law Report in which it reflected all the cases the Commission had prosecuted since 1999, adding that the ICPC had also embarked on public education and enlightenment on its activities.
Salami said, “We have to encourage the public to buy into the war against corruption so that they own it. So we must always capture public sympathy and support for our actions.
“We also visit the schools where young people are so as to catch them young and also advise them against glorifying corruption.
“We also visit the universities to start a ‘system review’ so that all corruption-prone processes and procedures are reduced to the barest minimum.”
He said that the system upgrade was meant to restore sanity in the educational system.
He also assured that similar exercise would be carried out in the seaports and the aviation industries which, according to him, are gateways through which foreigners access Nigeria.
“These areas of our economy affect foreigners’ first impression about us and also indirectly affect the foreign direct investment that we need for the growth of our economy,’’ he said.
He said that the Commission had also spread its tentacles to some local government areas in Nigeria where recoveries were made in terms of funds taken illegitimately out of public coffers.
The commissioner also said that three toll free lines were being provided by the commission to members of the public to offer useful information to the ICPC.
He, however, warned that “people should not abuse the opportunity by using it to score personal points by concocting falsehood against innocent persons.’’