Monday July 15, 2024

Sindh NAB reinvestigating already closed matters

By Imdad Soomro
September 30, 2018

KARACHI: By overstepping its mandate, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has engaged in reinvestigation of the matters already concluded or closed by the Bureau itself or the Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment Sindh.

According to official record available with The News, at least 10 high-profile cases of alleged mega corruption in construction of Sindh Assembly and MPAs Hostel, Hepatitis programme and others, which were concluded by Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment, are in process of reinvestigation of NAB, causing wastage of time and state resources. Two recent re-inquiries into the National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) affairs and the alleged corruption in District Accounts Office Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) show the mess in the NAB Sindh.

In 2016, the NAB had initiated an inquiry regarding alleged illegal appointments, irregular payments and corruption in procurement of medicines and other equipments in NICVD, obtained record of related matters and recorded statements of the officials concerned. And then after a failure in getting any proof of irregularities, the NAB in January 2017 handed over matter to the provincial anti-corruption body for further inquiry. The Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment finally in April 2018 closed the matter for lack of evidence. But surprisingly on September 12, NAB Sindh Deputy Director Mirza Saqib Baig wrote a letter to the NICVD executive director, informing about initiating an inquiry into almost the same accusations and asking him to provide the record on September 17. However, the NAB team raided the NICVD on September 14 without waiting for a reply and took away the record of appointments, payments and others.

This action created panic and a sense of fear in the NICVD officials. NICVD Executive Director Dr Nadeem Qamar, terming the move as unfortunate, told The News that although an inquiry of a similar nature had already been concluded, he and his team after receiving the NAB letter were ready to cooperate as they had done in the past and to submit the documents on September 17. But the raid was carried out on September 14 which was quite unjustified, he added. Similarly, the Bureau intervened in the matter of alleged corruption in District Accounts Office Shaheed Benazirabad after the completion of almost entire procedure – inquiry, registration of FIR, arrest of main accused persons by Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment – and asked the provincial anti-corruption department to hand over all the record.

It is pertinent to mention that the same inquiry was pending with the NAB for last two years but without any progress. However, the NAB by exceeding its power want to conduct an inquiry again despite the fact that the provincial body completed the procedure and the matter was about to refer to a trial court.

In August, the Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Department had unveiled this mega corruption scandal of Rs 17 billion in the Schools Education Department in all districts of the province out of which Rs 679.583 million were involved in just one district – Shaheed Benazirabad.

Murtaza Wahab – who is adviser to the chief minister on anti-corruption, law and Information – told The News that they had serious reservations over some actions of NAB, as Sindh government was committed to curb corruption in all provincial departments and ready to cooperate with the Bureau in that regard. There should be a working relationship and cooperation between Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment and NAB, added Wahab.

Criticising the NAB action in the NICVD affairs and the interference in the District Finance Office Shaheed Benazirabad, Wahab said the provincial anti-corruption body was working hard under his supervision against corrupt elements. Both government bodies should work together and there shouldn’t any impression of competition between the two.

This reporter contacted Sindh NAB DG as well as Spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim and waited for 15 days but they avoided to giving a response despite several calls, text and WhatsApp messages and reminders.

However, Sindh NAB sources said that they have found fresh evidence of corruption against the said institutes. They said that the letters have been issue in good faith and there was no malice or ill-will behind the move. They said that decision was taken in the public interest.