By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Members of the Institute of Chartered Â Â Accountants of Nigeria are battling to maintain their sagging fame as members, one after the other in the ICAN discussion forum are raving over who gave out information on the institute rather than face the issues at stake.
In a letter to the President members of the IT committee inself defence wrote â€œWe read the appalling publication of Monday 24th May, 2010 by faceless entities on the scandalous insinuations on the award of ICAN website development and vague allusion to irregularities in the conduct of elections.Â Members of Information Technology Committee met today to condemn and dissociate itself from the publication that by no means reflects the currency of its deliberation.
â€œTo corroborate the foregoing, please find attached minutes of the proceedings of meetings where the topics that were the subjects of the incognito press publication were discussed.Â A detailed review of the minutes would clearly reveal the Committeeâ€™s stand on these issues and in sharp contrast with the claims contained in the horrendous publication.
â€œThere are evidences to support the obvious facts that the proponents of the said publication must have had access to, or are in possession of the minutes of the proceedings of Information Technology Committeeâ€™s meetings.Â Whilst we do not want to presumptuously conclude the identity or professional affiliation of the proponent(s) of the publication, we would crave for caution in assuming that any member of the IT Committee was responsible for the unprofessional use of sensitive and privilege information â€”â€
The committee was silent on the issue of awarding N 5 million contract for building a website that cost between N 100,000 to N 500,000 and a down payment of N 3 million.Â It was also silent on the issue that the last conducted ICAN council election was seriously manipulated. The ICAN council Vanguard gathered fought against controls put on the website by the IT Committee that will prevent just anybody from downloading another memberâ€™s ballot paper.
The Council it was learnt decided to do away with the controls which were put in place to prevent fraud as some candidates wanted to win at all cost. Members of the body are asking the council â€œHow can an institute whose motto includes integrity condone such and be against controls against fraud? Can this organisation be for integrity with such an action.
According to the aggrieved members of the body, since ICAN council allowed anyone to download any membersâ€™ ballot papers once they know the personâ€™s name and membership number both of which are publicly available to anyone including non_ICAN members it was easy for anyone with access to the internet to down load membersâ€™ ballot paper.
According to them what the money bags did was to pick a big organisation both private and governmental including banks, with a large population of ICAN members. They will now obtain the names of the ICAN members in that organisation and download the members ballot paper without the membersâ€™ permission, and in other countries it is only the member that should be able to download their ballot papers.
According to ICAN members who spoke on condition of anonymity, these people seeking for votes will now tick or choose the candidates they would like to see voted in and then they will approach these members in this organisation. They usually will first try to find out if the member has paid their dues, because if not, the ballot will be rejected. If the member has not paid its ICAN dues, they will now give such person a proposal, in a lot of instances that the candidate contesting will pay his or membership dues for them as long as the member sign the ballot.
According to the allegation â€œsince the members have nothing to lose and will also get someone to pay over N 10,000 on their behalf for their dues, most members offered that option took it without battling an eyelid.
They reason the same ICAN members will now complain about politicianâ€. Some of the members simply ask is this not worse than what politicians do if this type of behaviour is exhibited by a professional body as ICAN whose watchword is Integrity?.
Their defence they say is they will verify members signature manually. But how does that remove the corrupt bribery element from the process. In addition, it does not make sense to attempt to verifyÂ manually the signatures of almost 28,000 members should they all decide to vote but only a few thousand usually vote and it was about 7,000 this year.
However, it was not all the members offered took it as some were so dismayed by this blatant public display of bribery in an institute likeÂ ICAN. So, this was how some of these candidates went from one big organisation to another mainly in Lagos and Abuja and collected votes with offers to bribe by paying the membersâ€™ dues.
According to ICAN discussion forum the total number of members eligible to vote is about 14,343, the total ballot paper sent out to members was 27,752 while the total number of downloaded ballot papers was 10,044. According to ICAN records the total number of returned ballot papers _ 7,034, total valid vote was 4,763, total vote rejectedÂ 2,241.
According some ICAN members they said that the IT committee recently madeÂ recommendations to the council on the balloting issue to prevent this type of fraudulent behaviour from happening in the next election. The ICAN council is yet to act on this and they can still reject it.
One of the members simply said â€œI will say that the IT Committee was against this initial way of printing anyoneâ€™s ballot paper but ICAN council claimed it was too late to institute such when it had already been put in place. So, the controls had to be brought down because of ICAN councilâ€™s decision not to go along with the controlsâ€.