POLITICS

Senator distributes N117m constituency items as ICPC threatens arrest

Enugu-North lawmaker, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, has hurriedly distributed constituency items worth N117m following threats by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission that he would be arrested and prosecuted if he failed to distribute the items which had been kept in his compound for over a year.

Utazi, who was accompanied by officials of the ICPC, defied the heavy rain in Enugu on Tuesday where he distributed transformers, grinding machines, tricycles and motorcycles.

As chairman of the anti-corruption committee in the 8th Senate, Utazi, who once boasted of being an anti-corruption champion, carried out oversight over the ICPC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other ant-graft agencies.

However, the ICPC said in a statement on Sunday that that the discovery of the constituency items was made during its Constituency Projects Tracking exercise.

The agency said the items covered by this amount and recovered from the legislator are 168 and 51 numbers of motorcycles and tricycles respectively.

“They were discovered to be stashed away in a compound in Mkpologu town of Uzo-Nwani Local Government Area, believed to be owned by the senator,” the ICPC stated.

The commission said it recovered 203 grinding machines and another 60 motorcycles and five transformers in the compound which had been procured under another constituency project.

The anti-graft agency subsequently impounded all the items and sealed the senator’s compound.

The ICPC said the tricycles, motorcycles and grinding machines were meant to be distributed to the lawmaker’s constituents to empower them as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to alleviate poverty.

“The senator has pledged to the ICPC that they would be distributed to beneficiaries on Tuesday August 6, 2019,” the commission had said.

The ICPC findings indicated clearly that the contract for the procurement of the items was awarded on 23rd January 2018, under the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the senator’s constituency projects.

It added, “Investigations have also shown that the companies awarded the contracts for the project are as follows: Al-Amir Int. Ltd., Du-Lumac Ltd., Com Technologies System Ltd. and Chumax Agency Ltd.

Some residents had, however, faulted the ICPC’s approach, insisting that Utazi should have been arrested for diverting constituency items.

The ICPC had in June began the first phase of investigation of fraudulent procurement practices in the award of over N15bn contracts for constituency and other projects in 12 states located in the six geo-political zones of the country.

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