The scandal was exposed when some disgruntled fund management staff, dissatisfied with the distribution of proceeds from the sleaze, petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
It will be remembered that the representative of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) shocked the nation during a roundtable on the police trust fund held on June 29, 2021, when he revealed that the police had not received any funds from the PTF in the previous two years.
He stated that a needs assessment of the force was conducted between September and October 2020, and that the NPF would require at least N1.8 trillion for one year.
He went on to say that the NPF conducted the needs assessment and sent it to the PTF, and that the NPF had received no funds from the PTF thus far.
Representatives from the Nigeria Police Force, the National Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Police Affairs, civil society organizations, and the private sector were present at the roundtable to assess the PTF’s performance since its inception two years ago.
According to one of the participants, Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), it is unclear how much the PTF has amassed since its inception, aside from what has been reported in the media as National Assembly approvals.
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Nwanguma stated that CSOs will conduct a FOI to find out how much the PTF has received and how much it has spent so far.
However, checks revealed that the National Assembly approved a N74 billion budget for the fund in the 2021 Budget, while the budget for 2020 could not be determined.
In a shocking revelation to the ICPC, the petitioners claimed that some of the equipment procured by the NPTF for the police, such as bullet proof vests and helmets, was of poor quality. For example, they claimed that bullet proof vests only have a protective shield in the front, while helmets were too small and unfit for use.
The petitioners also claimed that the majority of the operational vehicles purchased for the police with the N11 billion intervention fund were used and refurbished vehicles.
A shocking detail of the petition revealed that the majority of the used vehicles purchased by the fund came from war-torn countries such as Mali, Sudan, and Libya.
According to the petitioners, the roof of one of the refurbished vehicles attached to a top government official was blown off while on its way to the venue of President Muhammadu Buhari’s son’s wedding to the Emir of Bichi in Kano State in August.
In addition, medical equipment purchased with the funds was discovered to be of poor quality. According to the petitioners, one of the purchased items, IV fluids, came in sachets rather than plastic tubes.
Sources in the fund accused a former deputy governor from the North West now serving in the Senate, as well as some officials in the Ministry of Police Affairs, of masterminding the procurement scam.
Section 4 of the NPTF Act states that the Fund shall consist of An amount consisting of 0.5 percent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account; A levy of 0.0005 percent of the net profit of companies operating businesses in Nigeria; and Any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the federal, state, and local governments of the federation, among other things.
Section 11 states that the Board of Trustees is responsible for establishing policies and programs for the training and development of personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and its auxiliary staff in Nigeria and abroad in accordance with the Act’s objectives; approving the disbursement of funds from the Trust Fund to finance projects or activities of the Nigerian Police Force; and
Section 12 (1) states that the Board of Trustees has “powers” to award contracts of any kind or description for any amount, whether in local or foreign currency, in accordance with the due process requirements set forth in any law, rule, guideline, or regulation.
Section 15 states that the Executive Secretary is the Trust Fund’s Chief Executive and Accounting Officer, and is responsible for the Trust Fund’s administration
While Schedule 9 (5) Supplementary Provisions states under miscellaneous that “the fixing of the Trust Fund’s seal shall be authenticated by the signature of the Chairman or any other person authorized generally or specially to act for that purpose.”
However, it was gathered that the fund’s Executive Secretary circumvented the law in the purchase of police equipment by writing a letter to the BPP on July 10, 2020, vide BPP/S.1/ CCM/20/Vol.1/289: “Requesting Clarification on Financial Limits and Thresholds, Procurement Methods and Threshold of Application and Expenditure as related to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.”
According to sources, the NPTF boss obtained BPP approval to execute the equipment contract.
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Following the shocking revelations, the ICPC has invited several parties involved in the purchase, including a former IGP, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Budget Office, the Nigerian Police Force, management and staff of the NPTF, and others, to assist it in its investigation.
A copy of the ICPC’s letter of invitation reads: “The invited staff are to come with the following documents as applicable to their office and schedule, as well as original copies for sighting: two copies of all contract agreements for contracts awarded from the take-off grant and capital; copies of staff nominal roles; comprehensive list of staff on transfer, posting, and secondment; vote for take-off grant; breakdown of all spending and approvals; print out of ledger vote and spending, all no-objection certificates from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, and evidence of BPP clarification
Former Inspector General of Police testifies
Suleiman Abba, a former Inspector General of Police and Chairman of the NPTF Board, testified before the ICPC investigative panel that the NPTF’s management procured the substandard equipment on their own without his knowledge.
Abba complained that the NPTF management was preventing him and his staff from returning to work at the office that had been set up for them.
“In all of my interactions with management, I always begin my remarks by emphasizing transparency and due process.
“However, management assumed responsibility for such critical operational equipment without my knowledge. They pursued this egregious anomaly with the assistance of the Bureau of Public Procurement, and the Ministry of Police Affairs accepted responsibility.
“The truth is that the Federal Government had good intentions when it established this Trust Fund to improve the Nigerian Police Force.
“We came here to do our best to improve the Force’s equipment and training. However, those with the intention of enriching themselves hijacked the process. They basically told me to keep my hands to myself.
“I am not a party to how the NPTF’s take-off grant was spent. I have not been paid a Kobo for the work I have done thus far, which includes visits to Lagos and other locations to assess the state of dilapidation in Police personnel housing.
“They evaded all efforts by myself as Chairman of the Board to do the right thing by hiding behind some circular that had nothing to do with the operations of the NPTF, which is guided by the NPTF Act of 2019, as even the Attorney General of the Federation pointed out,” the retired IGP said.
The corruption scandal was uncovered as a result of a feud among the fund’s management staff over the distribution of the contract’s proceeds.
According to sources who requested anonymity, some employees received between N3 million and N5 million as their share, while others received between N7 million and N8 million.
According to the sources, this development resulted in squabbles among the staff, which culminated in the petition to the ICPC.