THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) yesterday handed over 40 recovered vehicles coveted by retired directors and assistant directors at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
One of the directors carted away five vehicles.
But ICPC said the affected retired public officers would face the law after investigation.
Its Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, said the vehicles were recovered by a crack team led by the commission’s Director of Asset Tracing, Mr. Frank Nanakumo.
Nta, who was represented on the occasion by a Commissioner in ICPC, Alhaji Bako Abdullahi, said the anti-graft agency acted on intelligence report on the looting of operational and utility vehicles of the affected ministry.
According to records by ICPC, the breakdown of the recovered vehicles is as follows: Hilux pickup (13); Hilux pickup (one); Toyota RAV4 (two); Audi Q7 (one); Ford Explorer (one); Land Rover (one); Nissan Patrol (one); Toyota Prado (eight); Toyota Avensis (three); Toyota Corolla (seven); Toyota Camry (one) and Audi A6 (one).
Nta said: “It is extremely sad that vehicles meant for the administrative and operational responsibilities of government establishment were dishonestly made away with by retiring senior public officers in whose oversight were the vehicles.
“However, it is fulfilling because the commission in its usual effort was alive to her law enforcement and prevention mandate in the fight against corruption.
“In all seriousness, this formality should not just be for handing-over of recovered vehicles from an anti-corruption agency to another public institution. Rather, it should be a moment for solemn reflection on our avowed commitment to public service and the thought processes of the public servant going into retirement.
“You will agree with me that, it is not so much that official vehicles of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources were dishonestly made away with by retiring public servants.
“However, what is more significant is the need to ask some questions and consistently interrogate how 40 government vehicles were removed without authorisation.”
He added: “It is also important to say that in the fight against corruption, it is not so much about those who dishonestly enriched themselves through government vehicles, but the opportunities for corruption that made this corrupt act possible in the first place.
“Consequently, there is also the need for everyone to know that those who saw the vehicles being carted away and said nothing are also part of the conspiracy for abuse of entrusted office and property.
“It is binding on you to ensure that all observations raised and subsequent recommendations made by the commission are compiled with in future.”
Asked if the retired public officers would be prosecuted, Abdullahi said: “Investigations are still ongoing, we cannot take action until we have concluded the findings.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Hajiya Rabi Jimeta, said the affected retired officers acted with impunity.
Mrs. Jimeta said: “Some of the vehicles carted away by the retired public officers were operational and utility vehicles. We found ourselves strangulated, incapacitated and unable to discharge our duties.
“Some of them took away as many vehicles as five. That was a clear case of impunity and irresponsibility.
“I was told that the officers responsible had written, but those concerned refused to return the vehicles. So, I was really delighted that ICPC got information and they tracked these vehicles even to the remotest parts of the country.
“We thank ICPC; we appreciate this esteemed organisation for returning 40 vehicles to us.”
Responding to a question, the permanent secretary said: “No former minister and no ex-permanent secretary was involved. Those involved were mostly directors and others.
“Once an officer retires, if his vehicle is not boarded, he or she is expected to return to the transport pool of a ministry or agency.”