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ICPC probes sources of looted COVID-19 palliatives

Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has concluded plans to probe the sources of palliative items looted from warehouses across major cities in the country. For days, suspected looters had invaded warehouses and private facilities in Jos, Lagos, Ibadan, Calabar, Ilorin, Kaduna, Osogbo, Lokoja and other capital cities, carting away food and other items.

Many of the warehouses had COVID-19 items that were donated to states, for onward distribution to the poor, to cushion the effect of the scourge. In the wake of the widespread looting, concerns had been raised about the propriety of keeping palliative items in warehouses in the face of biting hunger, and excruciating poverty in the land. Worried by the development, ICPC has said it would launch an investigation into the matter, with a view to identifying the sources of the looted items and possible sanction, where culpability is established. Spokesperson for the Commission, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, said the decision was a fallout of calls on the anti-graft agency to undertake a probe into the ugly development.

“In the aftermath of the looting spree that ensued as a result of the protests across the country, the ICPC is set to commence the investigation of the sources of looted items,” Ogugua said. According to her, “this is in response to increasing public demands on the Commission to investigate and uncover the rationale behind the storage of palliative materials meant for the suffering masses in warehouses across the country, which were supposed to be distributed to the people.

“It should be recalled that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission had earlier in the year taken proactive measures to prevent corruption in the administration of the COVID- 19 funds by setting up a monitoring team that was charged with the responsibility of preventing possible abuse. “In addition, the Commission drew up “Guidelines for PTF Management of COVID-19 Relief Funds” and issued an advisory on the management of the COVID-19 relief funds.

The scope of the monitoring activities of ICPC did not cover CACOVID funds, which were donated by individuals and private sector organisations as palliatives, but only the Federal Government funds used to procure relief materials and other palliatives.

“In view of the recent looting spree, ICPC will investigate the sources of goods looted from palliatives warehouses, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and private houses to unravel whether or not the properties looted were personally acquired, government procured, CACOVID donated, or are empowerment materials, which are part of the constituency projects initiative of the Federal Government.”

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