There are strong indications that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission has put the permanent secretaries in the federal ministries on its watch list in line with the ongoing anti-corruption war in the country.
This came on the heels of the clampdown on wealthy civil servants by the ICPC, which had already seized 24 properties and several cars from three officials of the Ministry of Niger Delta.
The affected officials are Poloma Kabiru Nuhu, Mangset Longyl Dickson and Daniel Obah.
The ICPC Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, had in a document described the seized properties as “excessive of the emoluments of the affected officers.”
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on July 30 that the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war was targeting “super rich” public officers who had multiple properties and other assets suspected to have been the rewards of graft.
An official of the ICPC, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said there was no way the agency would probe “super rich” civil servants without extending its searchlight on the permanent secretaries heading the ministries where corrupt activities were perpetrated.
The source said, “The permanent secretaries in federal ministries are on ICPC watch list. We will investigate them to ascertain whether or not they possess questionable property built with stolen public fund.
“If we are already investigating super wealthy civil servants, then the permanent secretaries cannot be left out.”
Some of the permanent secretaries suspected to have been put on the ICPC watch list include Mr. Sonny S. T. Echono, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Mrs. Fatimah Nana Mede, Ministry of Environment; Hajia Binta Bello, Ministry of Aviation; Mrs. Rabi Shuaibu Jimeta, Ministry of Youth Development; Mr. Dauda Shuaibu Kigbu, Ministry of Works; Mrs. Anastasia Mabi Daniel – Nwobia, Ministry of Finance; Ambassador Bulus Lolo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, Ministry of Information; Abdullahi Ahmed Yola, Ministry of Justice; Dr. James Obiegbu, Ministry of Police Affairs; and Dr. Ezekiel Oyemomi, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Others are Dr. Tunji Olaopa, Ministry of Communication Technology; Dr. Godknows Igali, Ministry of Power; Nkechi Ejele, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and National Orientation; Linus Awute, Ministry of Health; John Chukwu, Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory; Mr. Musa Istifanus, Ministry of Water Resources; Mr. Taiye Haruna, Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and Mr. Mohammed Bashir, Ministry of Transport.
Also, permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Ministry of Labour and Productivity; Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment; Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development; Ministry of Sports; Ministry of National Planning; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are said to be on the watch list.
When contacted, the ICPC Resident Consultant, Mr. Folu Olamiti, in a rather tacit manner, said, “If ICPC is probing civil servants, are permanent secretaries not also civil servants?”
A lecturer in the Department of Local Government Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Francis Fagbohun, said, “There is no way we can get to the root of corruption without starting from somewhere and that is what I think the Federal Government is doing. The government is just starting from somewhere. There is no way a civil servant will perpetrate any evil without his political boss knowing. The permanent secretaries in most cases are political. Most of them have turned themselves to political appointees. They no longer uphold that career trend. I think it will get to them; let us just keep our fingers crossed.
“This will also get to the ministers very soon. I believe in the gradual process of things. My advice is that the ICPC should not be cowed by any ‘super’ political appointee. If the juniors are guilty, the seniors must also be because the whole process would have passed through them. I want to believe it will get to them soon.”