By Our Reporter
LAGOSâ€”Against the backdrop of alleged mismanagement of N1 billion by top officials of the Ministry of Education, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, weekend arrested one of the officers closely linked with unauthorized disbursement of the fund.
According to sources, the arrest of the senior Executive Officer (Administration) by the operatives of the ICPC signals the commencement of full scale investigations into the case, just as the Commission has set machinery in motion to arrest more officials of the Ministry so far fingered in the unwholesome act.
The ICPC, which indicated resolve never to spare anyone linked with the mismanagement of the Ministryâ€™s fund, explained that investigation into the allegation was not targeted at any particular individual, but was reportedly perpetrated during the tenure of Mrs. Oby Ezekwezili as Minister from 2006 to 2007.
The officer so far arrested was reported to be in charge of withdrawal of funds from banks, while he was said to have been answerable to the Director of Finance in the Ministry described in the petition before ICPC as signatory to the withdrawals so far made.
The ICPC said it was not acting on a frivolous petition on the allegation made against the suspects, stressing that it had authenticated the source, as well as established preliminary facts on the issues raised by the petitioner.
The Commission said the petition on the Ministry of Education was filed in the office of its chairman, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola on November 28th November, 2007, who in turn assigned the petition with no. ICPC/P/NC/683/2007 for investigation on January 15, 2009
According to ICPC, an Interim Report on the petition was submitted to the office of Chairman on November 7, 2008, followed by the submission of a Progress Report on it on February 12, 2009, just as the final report was submitted on March 29, 2009
The petitioner had alleged that the Ministry of Education breached Section 22 (5) of the ICPC Act 2000 as well as Financial Regulation 414 when it transferred N55.9 million from the overhead cost of the ministryâ€™s appropriation for the year 2007 to cover the over expenditure on the Education Reform Programme, without the approval of the budget office of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The ICPC said its preliminary findings showed signs of gross abuses in payments of huge sums of money, running into hundreds of millions of naira allegedly granted as cash advances to officials of the ministry for onward payment to corporate organizations, contrary to rules and regulations guiding such transactions.