The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) has been tasked to probe the dismissed officials of the National Examination Council, (NECO)
In a statement at the weekend, anti corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) in a release signed by it’s Chairman, Mr Olanrwaju Suraju asked the ICPC to carry out investigation on the dismissed NECO officials.
Seventy staff of the NECO were dismissed by the agency’s internal system mid last month, following outcries over forged certificates.
NECO, established in April 1999 is Nigeria’s second most influential secondary examination regulatory body. Prior 1999, the West African Examination Council, (WAEC) established in 1952 domimated the secondary school’s final year examination administration.
The officials were said to have forged credentials and were mandated to appear before the management committee during which some of the staff allegedly confessed to the criminal act.
This prompted the Governing Board of NECO to review the report and approved the dismissal of the affected staff.
Suraju said dismissal was not enough and that without being backed by sanctions as dictated by law, a wrong precedence would be set.
He made reference to Section 25 (1)(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, which states that offenders if found guilty shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand naira or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two (2) years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
HEDA said that the NECO officials allegedly dismissed are public officers and the Commission as stated in Section 6 of Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 is saddled with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute offenders.
Suraju said the reason for the petition was that HEDA remains committed to ridding the country of corruption and corrupt practices adding that the group is desirous of seeing accountability, integrity, probity and transparency enforced across all levels of governments.
“We believe the allegations are within the purview of the offences contemplated by the Commission as stated in Section 25 (1(a) & (b)) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000. We must not sweep this legal obligation under the carpet” HEDA stated.
Buttressing its position, it cited section (25) which stated that “any person who makes or cause any other person to make to an officer of the commission or to any other public officer, in the course of the exercise by such Public officer of the duties of his office, any statement which to the knowledge of the person making the statement, or causing the statement to be made.”
The law specifically stated in subsection that anyone who makes false, or intended to mislead or isnt true in any material particular; or
is not consistent with any other statement previously made by such person to any other person having authority or power under any law to receive, or require to be made such other statement notwithstanding that the person making the statement is not under any legal or other obligation to tell the truth, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand naira or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two (2) years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Section 6 (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 also states that “it shall be the duty of the Commission – (a) where reasonable grounds exist for suspecting that any person has conspired to commit or has attempted to commit or has committed an offence under this Act or any other law prohibiting corruption, to receive and investigate any report of the conspiracy to commit, attempt to commit or the commission of such offence and, in appropriate cases, to prosecute the offenders”
HEDA implores the Commission to visit its powers as vested in Section 27 (1-4) of the Act, 2000 to investigate this case being reported to the Commission.
Section “27. – (1) states that every report relating to the commission of an offence under this Act may be made orally or in writing to an officer of the Commission, and if made orally shall be reduced into writing and read over to the person making the report; and every such report shall be signed or thumb- printed by the person making the report and where the person is an illiterate the officer obtaining the report together with a statement to the effect that it was read over and interpreted to the maker”
Also stated that “every report, whether in writing or reduced into writing, shall be entered in book kept at the office of the commission and there shall be appended to such entry the date and hour at which such report was made.”
HEDA further quotes section 3 which states that where an officer of the commission has reasons to suspect the commission of an offence under this Act following a report made under sub-section (1) or information otherwise received by him, he shall cause investigation to be made for such purpose may exercise all the powers of investigation provided for under this Act or any other law.
HEDA said the staff of National Examination Council allegedly dismissed are public officers and the Commission as stated in Section 6 of Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 is saddled with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute.
The group said “The above allegations are made against public officers and we hereby recommend the above report for diligent investigation to uncover the true position. The National Examination Council is a public office and its record will aid the speedy investigation and conclusion of the case.
We hereby request the Commission to collaborate with leadership of National Examination Council to aid further investigation and prosecution of the alleged dismissed officials.”
It said the petition was sent in the spirit of patriotism and that HEDA remains committed to ridding the country of corruption and corrupt practices.
It added “we are desirous of seeing accountability, integrity, probity and transparency enforced across all levels of the governments”